Friday, October 24, 2014
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Healthcare Experts Seek Ways to Improve Services for Elderly, Disabled

As New Jersey sets out to improve its ability to deliver the long-term support and services that older and disabled residents need, there is no shortage of proposals -- some of which are already under way -- on how to best achieve this goal.

Healthcare Experts Seek Ways to Improve Services for Elderly, Disabled

Susan C. Reinhard, senior vice president of AARP, and N.J. State Sen. Joseph F. Vitale.
Susan C. Reinhard, senior vice president of AARP, and N.J. State Sen. Joseph F. Vitale. NJ Spotlight

As New Jersey sets out to improve its ability to deliver the long-term support and services that older and disabled residents need, there is no shortage of proposals -- some of which are already under way -- on how to best achieve this goal.

One of the chief reasons that state policymakers -- along with healthcare industry representatives, advocates, and analysts -- see room for improvement is that AARP recently scored New Jersey 26th in the country for these services. The AARP scorecard was analyzed and assessed at an NJ Spotlight webinar yesterday.

Foremost among potential legislative proposals is a bill, A-2955/S-2127, that would require hospitals to ask patients if they want to designate a caregiver who would then be notified before the patient is discharged and provided with a plan describing what help the patient will need.

Bill sponsor Sen. Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex) said the bill would help caregivers understand how to meet the needs of family members who are returning home. He said he has heard several times about residents “having loved ones come home and not having the right tools and the right information about how to care" for them.

The scorecard, prepared with the help of the Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation, ranked New Jersey 36th in the country in the effectiveness of the transitions between residents’ homes, nursing homes, and hospitals. The state did particularly poorly in the percentage of nursing-home residents with dementia who face multiple burdensome transition at the end of life.

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