Eye on Nursing
AARP believes that every American deserves a highly skilled nurse when and where nursing skills are needed. A richly skilled, effectively integrated nursing workforce — with enough professionals to meet the need — is essential to delivering high-quality health care.
For more information on nursing issues and how they impact your health care, visit the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
AARP members are watching for policy solutions and legislation that would fully realize nurses' potential contribution to a patient-centered, transformed health care system in the following areas:
Removing Barriers to Practice and Care: Modernize outdated policies (public and private) and change state and federal laws and regulations to allow nurses to practice to the full extent of their education and training.
Patient-Centered Transformed Health Care System: Advances and contributions to the research, advocacy and communications strategies through the national network of professional and health care related stakeholders.
Advancing Nursing Education: Federal and state policies to increase the educational level of nurses through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.
Nurses Leading Change and Advancing Health: Federal and state policy making bodies include nurses on advisory committees, commissions, and boards.
AARP & Nurses Join Forces to Support Caregivers With the Care Act
The Coalition of Geriatric Nursing Organizations (CGNO), whose membership includes over 28,700 nurses in long term care, joins AARP in support of the Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable (CARE) Act. The CARE Act codifies state law to assure each hospitalized patient has an opportunity to designate a caregiver in the hospital record, which action research has shown improves care transitions back into the community. The CARE Act was passed by the OK state legislature in May, 2014 with the support of the Oklahoma Nurses Association. Follow all of the action on this campaign on twitter with Elaine Ryan, AARP Vice President of State Government Affairs. Her handle is @Roamthedomes.
In 2012, Susan C. Reinhard authored a study with colleagues at the United Hospital Fund that showed the expanding role of family caregivers now includes performing medical/nursing tasks of the kind and complexity once only provided in hospitals. The study, Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care, found that almost half (46 percent) of family caregivers performed medical/nursing tasks for care recipients with multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions. Of those family caregivers, 78 percent were managing medications, including administering intravenous fluids and injections.
AARP also conducted research with the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing’s program Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) which has embedded geriatric models of care in over 470 hospitals across the country. They found that support of the caregiver improved both the caregiver and patient hospital experience. The key elements of the CARE Act include, designation of a caregiver in the hospital record, notification of the caregiver in a reasonable time prior to discharge, review of the discharge plan and demonstration by the caregiver that the care can be provided.
While the CARE Act applies to all hospitalized patients, frail elders with multiple chronic needs account for the vast majority of unnecessary rehospitalizations which cost Medicare $ 17 billion last year. Most post hospital care will continue to be provided by unpaid family or friend caregivers. They, and their family members they serve, need much support to maintain their quality of life and prevent bad outcomes. Implementing the CARE Act in each state will provide a system for enhancing caregiver support.
Read the CGNO press release here.
Read more about nurses and the CARE Act here.
Providing the Nurses We Need
Nurses are central to consumers’ good health, especially within a changing health care system. They are positioned across the health care system to provide high quality health care, increase access to health care services, and keep costs down. Yet, as our population ages and requires more complex health care, we’re facing a shortage of nurses – 260,000 over the next 15 years.
To ensure Americans have a nurse, with the right skills, when and where they need one, Congress should: 1) modernize Medicare nursing education payments to help produce more advanced practice nurses; 2) establish a reliable, dedicated source of funding for nursing education capacity; and 3) remove federal legislative and regulatory barriers that prevent advanced practice registered nurses from fully using their skills to provide services within Federal health programs.