Professionals working in aging services often lament the difficulties of transitioning older adults from one care setting to another (watch for the upcoming Winter 2012−13 Generations, “Care Transitions in an Aging America,” for an in-depth exploration of the topic). Now, the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) has issued two reports examining the often ignored—yet absolutely essential—role family caregivers play in care transitions, and those caregivers’ skill levels and well-being.
The first report, issued October 2012, is Family Caregiving and Transitional Care: A Critical Review, which covers promising models that can make family caregivers an integral part of the transitions process, advocates for greater coordination between acute care medical services and long-term services and supports in transitional care, and includes policy, research and quality measurement recommendations. Report authors are FCA executive director Kathleen Kelly, long-term services and support consultant Mary Jo Gibson and patient rights advocate, Medicare and medical peer review expert Alan Kaplan.
The second report, Selected Caregiver Assessment Measures: A Resource Inventory for Practitioners, released December 2012, was developed by researchers and program developers to assess the skill levels and well-being of family caregivers, and is a follow-up to the FCA’s 2002 Resource Inventory. The report stresses the importance of assessing caregivers’ capabilities to provide care, and addresses their health and well-being.
Report findings state that family caregivers have “multiple, varied, and serious unmet financial, physical, emotional, and social needs. In order to continue providing care, family caregivers need assistance and support so that their physical and mental health needs are met rather than compromised.”
Produced in collaboration with the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging and the Margaret Blenkner Research Institute, the report was compiled by Sarah Schwartz and Laura Darlak under the supervision of Carol Whitlatch, assistant director of the Margaret Blenkner Research Institute of the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging and a member of the Generations Editorial Advisory Committee.
“As the population ages and caregiving needs increase throughout the country, the essential role families play in the healthcare system is undeniable,” says Kathleen Kelly. “At the same time, healthcare budgets are severely stressed and resources strained. Whether family caregivers provide transportation, food preparation, help with personal care or complex medical care such as dealing with wound care or feeding tubes, they are involved at every level. Unfortunately, caregivers’ needs are often unassessed, unrecognized, or even worse, ignored.”
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