Ohio Caregiving Act: Making Sure Family Caregivers Have the Resources They Need

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Ohio Caregiving Act: Making Sure Family Caregivers Have the Resources They Need

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A new Ohio law will make it easier for family caregivers to help a loved one stay at home. The Ohio Caregiving Act requires hospitals to communicate certain information to lay caregivers prior to discharge.

According to AARP, as many as 1.4 million Ohioans provide unpaid care to loved ones, with over 1.3 billion hours of unpaid family care given. AARP further reports that over 70 percent of Ohio caregivers perform complex medical tasks.

Jeanna McElroy, certified geriatric care manager and owner of Senior Support Services, LLC, commented on family members providing in-home care.

“Despite multiple options for in-home professional care, many family members choose to instead provide care themselves for their loved ones. Caring for someone in the home is typically less costly than other alternatives.”

With nursing home and assisted living facility costs on the rise, many individuals are staying at home longer. Individuals often only have the option to stay at home if they have a family or other lay caregiver available and willing to help provide care to them at home.

In 2016, the Ohio Legislature passed the Ohio Caregiving Act (“the Act”) with the goal of providing necessary resources to family caregivers after a patient is discharged from the hospital. The Ohio Caregiving Act requires hospitals to maintain records about a lay caregiver’s name and contact information.

The Act further requires hospitals to communicate certain information and provide training and demonstrations to the lay caregiver prior to discharging the patient to their home.

AARP proposed the Act and led the push for the Ohio Legislature to enact this law.

The Act contains several requirements:

A patient who is at least 55 years old and not unconscious or otherwise incapacitated must be given the opportunity to designate a lay caregiver. The hospital must present this opportunity to the patient after admission, but before discharge.

The hospital must notify the lay caregiver as soon as practicable that the patient will be discharged, and the hospital must create a discharge plan.

The discharge plan may include a list of tasks necessary to facilitate the transition from the hospital to the home, provide contact information of appropriate health care providers that will be necessary to implement the discharge plan, and contain information about the lay caregiver and a description of tasks to be performed after discharge.

The hospital must review the discharge plan with the patient or the patient’s guardian. If appropriate, the hospital or health care professional should review the discharge plan with the lay caregiver. The intent is not to delay a patient’s discharge if the caregiver is not reasonably available to participate in the plan review.

As part of the discharge plan review, the health care professional should determine if it is appropriate for a hospital employee to demonstrate tasks described in the discharge plan. Each person participating in the discharge plan review will have the opportunity to ask questions about the care needed and the tasks to be performed.

The designation of a lay caregiver is not intended to interfere with a person serving as an agent under a Health Care Power of Attorney for the patient, nor does it obligate the lay caregiver to provide care to the individual.

Rather, the Ohio Caregiving Act allows those family members providing in-home care to be better equipped after the patient is discharged from the hospital.

“Possibly more family members and/or designated caregivers will be willing to provide this care if they feel equipped for the task as a result of proper training upon their loved one’s discharge from the hospital. While this training will allow many caregivers to provide care that they may have otherwise performed incorrectly or not at all, there remains many circumstances that still require a professional care provider. As long as these situations are disclosed by the hospital staff in the discharge plan, then the designated caregivers could assist in saving the patient money by providing the care that does not require a professional,” McElroy stated.

AARP provides wallet cards to keep near your insurance cards so that the lay caregiver has a quick reference to his or her rights under the Act. Visit action.aarp.org/OHcaregiving to download a free wallet card.