Geriatric caregiver photos Shutterstock Image IDs 331947971, 331947818, and 331947809, Copyright Robert Kneschke

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The Indiana legislature passed the “Caregiver Advise, Record, and Enable Act” (known as the CARE Act”), which took effect on January 1, 2016.

Under the CARE Act, when a patient is admitted to the hospital, the hospital must give the patient (or the patient’s guardian or health care representative) the opportunity to designate a “Lay Caregiver.” A Lay Caregiver is a person who has a significant relationship with the patient and who may provide care for the patient at the patient’s residence after the patient is discharged from the hospital. If the patient designates a Lay Caregiver, the hospital will ask the patient for written consent to provide the patient’s personal health care information to the Lay Caregiver.

When it is time for the patient to be discharged from the hospital, the hospital staff will ask the patient to contact the Lay Caregiver. However, if the patient does not have the capacity to contact the Lay Caregiver himself, the hospital staff will attempt to contact the Lay Caregiver.

The hospital staff member will then discuss with the Lay Caregiver the plan for at-home care for the patient. This at-home care plan is developed by a nurse, social worker or other licensed health care professional, based on their evaluation of the patient’s need for care after the patient is discharged from inpatient treatment at the hospital. The health care professional takes into consideration the patient’s physical and mental status and the patient’s ability to care for himself. The at-home care plan will help the Lay Caregiver assist the patient at the patient’s residence with

  1. Activities of daily living
  2. Managing would care
  3. Administering medications
  4. Operating Medical Equipment

The health care professional will even provide demonstrations of any tasks to the Lay Caregiver to help the Lay Caregiver properly care for the patient after the patient returns home. In addition, the health care professional will give his or her contact information to the Lay Caregiver in case the Lay Caregiver has any questions.

If the patient designates someone to be the patient’s Lay Caregiver, the lay Caregiver is not obligated to accept responsibility to provide the patient with after care. Therefore, the patient should discuss his intentions with a potential Lay Caregiver and make sure that this person is willing to help the patient once the patient is discharged from the hospital.

Finally, appointing Lay Caregiver does not override the authorization of a person who the patient has previously appointed as Health Care Representative or under a Health Care Power of Attorney under Indiana law. A Lay Caregiver is simply a person who is able to physically provide care to the patient in the patient’s time of need after a stay in the hospital.

Jeff R. Hawkins and Jennifer J. Hawkins are Trust & Estate Specialty Board Certified Indiana Trust & Estate Lawyers and active members of the Indiana State Bar Association and National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Both lawyers are admitted to practice law in Indiana, and Jeff Hawkins is admitted to practice law in Illinois. Jeff is also a registered civil mediator, a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the Indiana Bar Foundation;  a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Indiana Association of Mediators; and he was the 2014-15 President of the Indiana State Bar Association.

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