Nov 01, 2019

Nurses Play Critical Role in Supporting Family Caregivers

A nurse discusses the Resource Guide with a family cargiver and patient.

Family caregivers are engaging in care that is intense and complex, with more than 20 million performing medical–nursing tasks.

With that in mind, Susan C. Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Heather M. Young, PhD, RN, FAAN, write in the November issue of the American Journal of Nursing (AJN) about the importance of nurses supporting family caregivers.

“As the border between hospital and home blurs, and more care is shifting to community settings, family caregivers are paying the price,” Reinhard and Young write.

“As nurses, we must shift our focus and perspective to embrace this new reality and be more inclusive and supportive of family caregivers as vital members of our teams.”

Their article is part of a series they have written that was inspired by AARP’s Home Alone: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care study, which recognized three years ago the extent to which family caregivers perform medical nursing tasks and their desire to be better prepared for this role.

Since that study, much has changed. AARP helped lead to the passage in 43 states of the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act. The legislation requires hospitals to advise individuals that they can identify a family caregiver, record the name and contact information of the caregiver in the electronic health record, and enable family caregivers to prepare for their post-discharge obligations by providing instruction and adequate notice.

In addition, the AARP Public Policy Institute’s No Longer Home Alone initiative has provided resources for nurses and family caregivers, including more than 30 videos and more than a dozen articles in AJN, covering the topics of medication management, mobility, wound care, incontinence, and special diets.

Written resource guides for family caregivers augment the videos and are available at

Reinhard also participated in a companion podcast with Maureen Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, FAAN, editor-in-chief of AJN.


Read the full article

Listen to the podcast