Capable Caregiver Program

Know your rights: Designate a family caregiver

According to AARP, more than 771,000 Maryland residents are caring for an older parent or other loved one, helping them to live independently at home. The responsibilities of such caregivers are enormous, and they can be made burdensome when caregivers can't get the information they need to help their loved ones.

The Maryland CARE Act has helped with that. This law requires hospitals to make reasonable attempts to keep designated caregivers informed about discharge plans and prepare the caregiver for follow-up care needed at home. The new law dovetails nicely with Atlantic General's efforts to keep discharged patients on the path to health after they leave the hospital.

Designation of a caregier does not obligate him/her to perform any aftercare for the patient. If designated, the hospital must notify the caregiver regarding the discharge or transfer or the patient as soon as practicable.

We believe that both the patient and his or her primary caregiver are critical members of the healthcare team. Much of the work we're doing includes making sure there are no financial or social barriers that prevent patients from following the doctor's orders, and also educating patients and their families -- in language they understand -- about the importance of keeping follow up appointments with their physicians, following the discharge instructions and taking medications as prescribed. The patient must give written consent before any medical information can be released to the caregiver.

For more information on caregivers visit the AARP website.