The role of
family caregivers has dramatically expanded to include performing
medical/nursing tasks once only provided in hospitals, says a new report by the AARP Public Policy Institute and the United Hospital Fund.
The report is based on a nationally representative population-based online
survey of 1,677 family caregivers to determine what medical/nursing tasks they
(46%) of caregivers performed medical/nursing tasks for family members with
multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions. Three out of 4 (78%) family
caregivers who provided medical/nursing tasks were managing medications,
including administering intravenous fluids and injections. Caregivers
reported finding wound care very challenging; more than a third (38%) wanted
The report reveals the complexity and difficulty of
specific tasks, the lack of support and training family caregivers receive, and
the effect on their quality of life. It makes 10 recommendations, including:
profession or health care provider is solely responsible for ensuring that
family caregivers who
take on these daunting responsibilities are trained and supported," the
authors write. "This effort requires the coordinated efforts of all
sectors—hospitals, home care agencies, community agencies, nursing homes,
hospices, and physician and other clinician practices—and a level of teamwork
that challenges attitudes and behaviors so firmly entrenched in the current system."
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