5 Ways to Support Patients and Their Caregivers During COVID-19

Connie Feiler, Clinical Director of Patient Experience

The Caregiver, Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, which ensures caregiver inclusion in patient discharge education, has been implemented in 40 states since 2014. So why are we talking about it now? With the harsh impact of COVID-19, the landscape has changed.


COVID-19 risks mean many hospitals limit visitors, shorten hospital stays, and perform follow-up visits virtually. Although studies show positive results when caregivers are involved with patient discharge education, including those caregivers is now harder to do. So how can you be sure caregivers are getting the information they need?

Here are five tips to successfully include caregivers in a COVID-19 world and ensure positive patient outcomes at home.

  • Include the caregiver—it’s more important than ever. COVID-19 has added stressors to hospital care. One critical change is that family caregivers may not be physically present during the hospital stay or at patient discharge. Their absence can make it tricky to demonstrate and teach new procedures, but it’s crucial that caregivers still get the information they need. You can meet this need by including caregivers in discharge education, whether from near or afar. There are different ways for hospitals to involve caregivers remotely, such as using Zoom or other video conferencing software, allowing patients to record procedures on their phones, or sharing Healthwise videos developed specifically for caregivers supporting patients at home.
  • Remember that both patients AND caregivers may be anxious. Patients, caregivers, and clinicians all want a successful recovery, but caregivers are under added pressure. They must often perform complex and unfamiliar procedures to ensure patient success. You can help relieve anxiety by providing patient and caregiver education at the right time. When possible, deliver education before the day of discharge to allow patients and caregivers time to absorb the information and ask questions. Waiting until the morning of discharge to provide education may add to everyone's anxiety.
  • Show—don’t tell—to explain techniques. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth millions! People retain 95% of a video message, compared to 10% when reading it in text, so share videos with caregivers rather than simply talking about a procedure.1 We offer many videos with detailed instructions covering at-home procedures and care. Caregivers can review the videos as many times as it takes to feel comfortable with their caregiver tasks.
  • Deliver inclusive educationevery home and patient is unique. Inclusive education resonates with caregivers and can make them feel more comfortable with the tasks they’ll need to do. We focus on inclusivity while developing content. Our educational materials show diverse bodies and skin tones, and they’re offered in multiple languages to help every caregiver feel supported and prepared for the tasks ahead.
  • Work with experts. Working with experts can help you determine the best strategies for improving your health education programs for patients and their caregivers. Connie Feiler, our Clinical Director of Patient Experience, has over 30 years of nursing experience supporting patient education. She has a comprehensive understanding of hospital workflows and wants to help you maximize your use of Healthwise resources. You can reach out to Connie at cfeiler@healthwise.org.

Are you looking for more ways to include caregivers in your patient education process? We can help.

1 https://acpdecisions.org/12-reasons-why-video-is-a-crucial-element-of-shared-decision-making/