Patients who have been admitted to a nursing home are entitled to a care conference. At this meeting members of the interdisciplinary team will be in attendance to provide information about the patients (or resident as nursing homes call them) care plan. The nursing home resident and their family support should be in attendance to ask questions and serve as an advocate for the resident.
The resident themselves should also be in attendance. However if this isn’t possible, the residents Power of Attorney or Patient Advocate should be there to receive information about the patients treatment plan.
As a family member or patient advocate it is vital that you attend the resident care conference so you can understand any changes in condition or treatment. Changes in medical condition can occur quickly or over time and without context it may be difficult to understand the changes.
As important as the care conference is they are routine and as a result apathy can occur during the process. Here is a list of five things you should do to prepare for the resident care conference so it remains and effective care management tool.
List Your Concerns
Remember this is your chance to get questions answered with the entire treatment team in the same room. It makes sense to prepare a list of concerns so they can be properly addressed. You should also check on any other concerns you had during the last care conference to make sure they have been corrected
Request the Chart
Just three years ago it was common to have patient charts available at the nursing desk to review. After the Affordable Care Act, medical care organizations were mandated to incorporate electronic medical records to improve reporting. The transition from paper and electronic medical records presents a challenge for family members. As a result, the chart might not be available for review without use of a computer. If a paper chart is not available, make sure the nurse reviews the electronic version with you. The patient bill of rights requires them to do this.
Request Specific Staff
All key disciplines should be in attendance at the resident care conference. The meeting should include a representative from nursing, therapy, dietary, activities and social work departments. Each department will present a report on their portion of the care plan. Special treatments like wound care, hospice or respiratory therapy should also be discussed. If you would like to have a specific staff member in attendance you should make that request prior to care conference. Remember, the nursing home staff is very busy and it’s not unusual for them to attend multiple meetings in a day. If they get the opportunity to skip a meeting they will take it. You can insure their presence by requesting their attendance prior to the meeting.
Ask For An Action Plan
Once you have communicated your concerns during the resident care conference it is important those concerns are address. Even if you were carefully detailed in presenting your concerns, without an action plan, nothing will get fixed. Be sure to have the staff member running the meeting to repeat your concerns back to you to avoid misunderstandings. Then ask for a date on which you can expect a report on the progress.
Remember no one is going to care for your senior family member like you do. Even the best nursing home staff will not have the emotional attachment you have with your family member. This is especially important to remember when meeting with nursing home staff. It is important to be as professional as possible and limit emotional response. The staff is there to do a job. Emotional responses like yelling or crying only slows the entire process.
Treat nursing home staff like a colleague at work. They are members of a treatment team charged with taking care of your senior family member, just like you. If you keep an air of professionalism, you will have an optimal outcome.