Wilson Medical Center patients can designate lay caregivers

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Did you know that there are roughly 43 million people in the United States who act as a family caregiver? Caregivers play a vital role in providing care to someone at home or a health care setting.

Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 3, as a patient at Wilson Medical Center, you will have the option to designate someone as your lay caregiver. A lay caregiver is an individual, 18 years of age or older, designated by the patient or healthcare power of attorney who will provide aftercare assistance to the patient after discharge.

Several states have a lay caregiver law through the State Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act. While currently not a law in North Carolina Wilson Medical Center is actively working with our patients and families to create a successful hospital stay and transition of care to your residence. It is our mission to engage the patient and caregiver(s) in clear communication and provide education on how to care for themselves during hospitalization and post-discharge.

While it is voluntary to designate someone as your lay caregiver, it requires the hospital to notify that individual before the patient is discharged to their residence or transferred to another facility. Additionally, the hospital must also share a recovery plan for the patient when being discharged to their residence.

So let’s discuss a little more about what this means.

What is the role of the lay caregiver?

This individual will communicate with the patient/family and health care team regarding medical care before, during and after the hospitalization or health care service visit. He or she will actively participate with all health care education and needs during hospitalization/visit and care after discharge including medication administration/injections, mobility, follow-up appointments, tube feedings/IV lines, wound care, lifestyle changes (i.e. smoking, diet, exercise).

So who may be a designated lay caregiver?

It may be the patient’s next of kin, relative, friend, neighbor, healthcare power of attorney or assigned guardian. Patients who are less than 18 years old, unless emancipated minors, are excluded from this opportunity as all newborn/pediatric patients are the parents/guardians’ responsibility.

When is a lay caregiver designated?

A lay caregiver may be designated at every visit or encounter in which the patient will need support for post-care recovery.

How do you designate someone as a lay caregiver?

Beginning Oct. 3, patients will be asked upon admission if they would like to designate someone as their lay caregiver. If an individual is designated, a consent form will have to be completed and placed in the patient’s medical record. If a patient decides not to designate someone, that will also be noted in the health record.

For more information about this process, contact Case Management at Wilson Medical Center by calling 252-399-8728.

Rhonda Leegins is the patient safety officer and director of case management at Wilson Medical Center.