Implementing New York State's CARE Act: A Toolkit for Hospital Staff

Performing complex medical and nursing procedures for their loved ones after discharge from hospital to home, more than 40 million unpaid family caregivers in the U.S. have become essential members of the care team. Identifying family caregivers, including them in discharge planning, and ensuring that they receive adequate preparation for their roles is therefore a key to improving hospital-to-home-care transitions and ongoing care.

That's the rationale behind the Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable, or CARE, Act, developed by AARP, that New York and more than 30 other states and jurisdictions have, with minor variations, enacted. A new United Hospital Fund guide, Implementing New York State's CARE Act: A Toolkit for Hospital Staff, is helping administrators, nurses, discharge planners, social workers, and others integrate the legislation's requirements into hospitals' daily practice, with step-by-step guidelines for engaging family caregivers in the discharge process.

The toolkit details the four key requirements of the CARE Act, from offering patients the opportunity to identify a caregiver through obtaining consent for information sharing, informing patients and caregivers about discharge options, and providing needed instruction on home care tasks. It also advises hospitals on a fifth step, not required by the legislation but an important element in “closing the loop”: follow up with patients and caregivers to identify problems and answer questions.

Read the related press release

UHF has also prepared a guide to the CARE Act for patients and caregivers-explaining what they can expect to be asked by hospital staff and what instructions they are entitled to receive. Available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian, and in both a full and an abridged version, the guide can be downloaded here and from the Next Step in Care website.

The hospital toolkit and the caregiver guide draw on UHF's two decades of experience working to improve partnerships between family caregivers and health care professionals, and build on the Next Step in Care portfolio of web-based tools and on the three-year Transitions in Care–Quality Improvement Collaborative (TC–QuIC). Both were produced with the support of The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc.