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Legislators on Track to Help In-Home Caregivers

The Wyoming House will consider a bill that could help patients avoid expensive nursing homes by offering more training to their family caregivers. (Victor 69/iStockphoto)
The Wyoming House will consider a bill that could help patients avoid expensive nursing homes by offering more training to their family caregivers. (Victor 69/iStockphoto)
February 16, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wy. - The state Legislature's House Health Labor and Social Services Committee advanced a bill Monday night that could help patients avoid expensive nursing homes by giving their family caregivers some basic support.

Tim Lockwood, associate state director for communications and advocacy of AARP Wyoming, says some 66,000 family members in the state play a critical role taking care of their loved ones at home, providing almost $817 million in unpaid services.

"A majority of Wyoming people, the number one thing when it comes to aging is they want to be able to age in their home," says Lockwood. "And so, we're looking at how can we support those caregivers in our state."

House Bill 76, sponsored by Rep. Elaine Harvey (R-Big Horn/Park), would allow hospital patients to designate a caregiver when they're admitted so they can be contacted upon discharge.

Caregivers would also be briefed by hospital staff on any follow-up medical tasks. The bill now heads to the full House for review.

Lockwood says on top of enabling older residents to stay in their homes longer, the measure could also reduce costly hospital readmissions.

Since caregivers are increasingly asked to perform nursing and medical tasks with little or no training, such as injections, managing medicines, changing dressings and bandages, he thinks HB 76 would improve health outcomes.

"They take the time to show the medical caregiver how to administer medication, or how to use various other things that are medically necessary for those individuals at home," says Lockwood. "By doing that, they keep those individuals safe; they're more comfortable."

Lockwood adds many Wyoming hospitals are already following these commonsense guidelines. He says putting them on record would help ensure more Wyomingites have the option of aging at home. More than a dozen states have already passed similar legislation.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY