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Caregiving Tops AARPCT Agenda in 2012

Last December, AARP Connecticut unveiled our legislative agenda for the 2012 Legislative Session, including our top priority of protecting and expanding access to critical services that allow older adults and individuals with disabilities to live independently in their homes and communities as they age. Part of this effort includes protecting important programs and making improvements that help support family caregivers, the backbone of Connecticut’s long-term care system.

According to a recent AARP Public Policy Institute report, more than 711,000 Connecticut residents provided unpaid care in 2009. The estimated economic value of their unpaid contributions was approximately $5.8 billion. Last year, AARP in conjunction with the Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation released a national scorecard that ranked how well states are doing in providing long-term services and supports, including support for unpaid family caregivers. According to the Scorecard, Connecticut ranked #11 overall but falls short in several key categories. One key indicator where Connecticut needs improvement is in the area of medication administration.

“AARP believes medication administration reforms are needed to ease the burden on individuals living on their own in the community with paid supports and/or with the support of family caregivers,” said AARP State President, Laura Green. “We’re pleased that Governor Malloy’s budget begins to address this issue with a medication administration reform proposal.”

Currently, Connecticut allows family members to be trained to administer drugs, but has significant limitations on what a home health aide or other paid direct care worker can do, even if under the supervision of a nurse. As a result, a family caregiver may have to rush home from work during a break or lunchtime to administer medication to a loved one. Alternatively, the caregiver can hire a nurse for this routine procedure. But, since medication administration is typically performed several times each day, it’s not feasible, affordable, or practical to hire a nurse to administer each dose.

A recent New Jersey pilot program that tested medication administration reform found no adverse health outcomes and significant positive effects including health and quality of life improvements.

AARP is also supporting several bills that cost-effectively support consumers and family caregivers by providing information, assistance and additional options for home and community-based care, including:

  • Full funding in this year’s budget for the Connecticut Home Care Program (CHCPE) for Elders and the Alzheimer Respite Program.
  • Establishment of a statewide Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) system – AARP supports legislation to establish a statewide ADRC that would serve as a one-stop shop for consumers to get information and assistance in navigating Connecticut’s long-term care system. The legislation would also make Connecticut eligible for additional federal funding that could save the state $37 million over 5 years.
  • Allowing spouses of an individual living in a nursing home to keep the maximum allowable resources so they can continue to support themselves and stay in their home and community. AARP believes Connecticut should ensure that caregivers do not have to become poor themselves by caring for their loved ones. Setting the highest “community spouse resource allowance” and “spousal maintenance needs allowance” possible under federal law (as we had done previously) would provide community spouses with the greatest financial protections.

As the 2012 Legislative Session gets into full swing, AARP staff and volunteers are busy meeting with state lawmakers and other stakeholders on these issues, testifying at public hearings and informing our members, and all 50+ residents in Connecticut, so they can make their voices heard. To find out where AARP Connecticut stands, learn about key legislative actions, and stay up to date on issues of importance to the 50+ population in Connecticut, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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