When you have a loved one with a disability or an older parent in a care community, you will be CARE PLAN CONFERENCEasked to participate in a Care Plan Conference. Care conferences are a routine event for all types of providers; from hospice, to home health, to assisted living (AL) and skilled nursing facilities (SNF). They provide family and staff with an opportunity to discuss how your loved ones needs are being managed and what new challenges they are experiencing.

Most care conferences will include the staff that attends to your loved one; from nurses and physical therapists to social workers and activity directors. Depending upon the care setting, their physician may also be present.  You may also request that a care manager attend with you or on your behalf to serve as an advocate.

The conference provides the care team an opportunity to share what they see with one another as well as the family and gives the family a chance to ask questions and talk more about their concerns. The team will discuss the best options to pursue to resolve concerns and set goals and deadlines for implementing these new tactics.

The conference is also your opportunity to provide the staff with important background information that will improve the quality of care that your loved one receives. SNFs are obligated to provide individualized care, and are therefore required to make reasonable adjustments to honor the resident’s needs and preferences. For example, if an individual always enjoyed their bath after dinner, as a means of relaxing to ensure a good night’s sleep, it is not unreasonable to expect the staff to adjust their bath schedules accordingly. When making specific requests, be prepared to explain how the change or adjustment will be of benefit to the resident and improve their quality of life. Laws are in place that protects residents’ rights to receive quality care. You and your family member should determine what “quality care” means to you, and clearly communicate your expectations to those providing that care.

Care conferences are a regulatory requirement for skilled nursing facilities and unless the resident is in crisis, most care conferences are held on a quarterly basis.  In some states, assisted living communities must also hold care conferences, but on a semi-annual basis. Families can request one at any time if they feel they need it.

Source: Dee Childers, Life Changes Elder Care Consulting, LLC