Proposed New Jersey Law Would Require Caregiver Education
After three decades as a caregiver for her mother, father, and mother-in-law, René Cantwell of Dumont learned — a few times the hard way — what questions to ask when a loved one was being released from the hospital after surgery or some other setback. But first-time caregivers aren’t likely to be as schooled in the transition from hospital to home until they find themselves alone and struggling to change a bandage, operate a harness lift, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle. Senior citizen advocates in New Jersey are lobbying for legislation that would require hospitals, soon after a patient is admitted, to identify who will serve as the caregiver at home, then give that family member, friend, or aide detailed instructions on the care that will be needed after discharge. “Having the hospital develop some sort of link or bridge to the families of their patients could help those families understand the changes ahead and what’s going to come down the road,” said Cantwell, a founding member of the Bergen County Coalition of Caregivers. “That’s something that a lot of families don’t even know they need until they find themselves in that situation.” The proposed law was overwhelmingly approved by the Assembly in May. But a vote in the Senate was held up after the New Jersey Hospital Association raised some concerns and asked for time to negotiate revisions, said Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge), Chairman of the Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee.