AARP poll shows support for CARE Act

A poll recently commissioned by the AARP in Iowa has revealed near-unanimous support for a proposed law benefiting caregivers across the state.

The poll, released Dec. 11, shows 96 percent of family caregivers support initiatives in the CARE Act, which stands for Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable.

The survey was given to 800 registered voters who are more than 40 years old.

Anthony Carroll, AARP associate state director for advocacy, said the poll was done to determine how the organization could help support caregivers.

“November was Caregiving Month in Iowa,” he said. “We wanted to do the assessment as an organization of where caregivers are, what’s the realities, who are they in Iowa.”

Carroll said AARP estimates there are approximately 317,000 people in Iowa who could be classified as caregivers, and those are only people who do that job every day.

The definition of “caregiver” is a broad one.

“When people think about long-term care, the first thing that comes to mind is often nursing homes, assisted living,” Carroll said. “But the reality is the overwhelming majority of long-term care is provided by family members, families and friends.”

Many caregivers, according to Carroll, are unpaid and are simply doing the job because of the relationship they have with the person receiving the care.

The CARE Act, which Carroll said has the support of Gov. Kim Reynolds as well as a bipartisan group of legislators, is aimed at helping caregivers across the state.

It says that all patients in Iowa who are admitted to the hospital are to designate a caregiver. That caregiver will then be notified of all changes regarding that patient.

Notification is a major component of the CARE Act.

“Of course, that’s important because, as our poll finds out, a majority of caregivers are working, so they need a heads up,” Carroll said.

The CARE Act would also provide for consultation on any medical care and medication management.

Carroll said this would include hospitals educating caretakers on how to administer medicine.

The results of the survey show that, even among people who aren’t caregivers, there is support for them.

“(The CARE Act) was rated very or extremely important, even amongst the 90 percent of people who have never been caregivers,” Carroll said.

Iowa is one of only 13 states that does not have a CARE Act, or something similar.

“I think his poll is really a sample of evidence of what we see anecdotally,” Carroll said. “When we talk about caregiving, eyes light up. People understand this reality, and there is a multitude of ways we can provide better support.”

“We think the CARE Act is a great step forward to, again, making sure we’re providing better care.”

Results from the poll:

• 96 percent of family caregivers in Iowa believe it’s “extremely” or “very” important they receive instructions on medical tasks.

• 92 percent of respondents support requiring hospitals to explain and demonstrate medical tasks to caregivers.

• 91 percent support requiring hospitals to keep caregivers informed of decisions.

• 83 percent support requiring hospitals to give an option of naming a caretaker in medical records.