Preparing for a nursing home care plan meeting

Regular care plan meetings provide opportunities to make sure your loved one is meeting goals and progressing toward good health.

Regular care plan meetings provide opportunities to make sure your loved one is meeting goals and progressing toward good health.

If you've made the tough decision to transition your loved one into a nursing home facility, you'll need to meet with the staff to determine a course of treatment.

Known as a care plan meeting or conference, the initial assessment must take place within the first week or two at a facility that accepts Medicare or Medicaid. At this meeting, the professionals will consult with the resident and family to assess objectives for care and determine the best treatments and activities to achieve these goals.

Staff attending this meeting can include the nurse supervising care, a dietitian, a social worker, and staff member who organizes daily activities and a physical therapist. Together, you'll develop a care plan document to provide a coordinated guide and instructions for all staff who will be caring for the patient.

Subsequent meetings usually take place at the nursing home on a quarterly basis to assess the progress of these goals and objectives and make adjustments to care.

So how can a family member prepare for and make the most of a loved one’s care plan meeting?

Plan to attend

This is the first step. You are an advocate on your loved one’s behalf, and your attendance is key in helping ensure that the resident’s wishes are conveyed clearly. Work with the nursing home facility to set up meeting times that can fit into your schedule, and be sure to get written notice of when the meeting is scheduled. If you are unable to make the scheduled meeting for any reason, attempt to reschedule or find another family member or family friend to fill in for you.

Ask the right questions

During the care plan meeting, be prepared to discuss medical care and theraputic treatments in addition to meals, planned daily activities and emotional well-being. Some questions you might want to ask include the following.

  • Has the condition of my loved one's health, function or behavior changed since the last meeting? If so, what reasons can explain these changes?
  • What progress has been made since the last meeting? What's working and what's not?
  • Is my loved one taking any new medication or discontinued use of any medication? Why?
  • Does my loved one need any special therapy? If so, what therapy goals have been established or met?
  • How is my loved one's vision and hearing? Has it changed significantly?
  • Has my loved one met with the doctor recently? If so, what evaluations, medications, therapies or treatments were discussed or prescribed?
  • How is my loved one eating or drinking? Has he or she changed weight significantly?
  • Has he or she been active? Could we add any activities to the daily or weekly schedule that he or she might particularly enjoy?
  • Does my loved one need any new personal items or clothes?
  • Has the facility experienced any changes in staff or administration?

You'll want to make sure that you've engaged the care staff and your loved one to make sure any needs and issues are addressed. 

Put it in writing

For each care plan meeting, draft a list of questions and remarks, like the ones above, that you want to address at the meeting and take careful notes throughout. For your records, keep copies documenting your loved one’s needs and preferences as discussed in past care plan meetings and bring these to each following meeting. These documents can help guide you through any care plan revisions that need to be made as well as giving you a clear picture of which care plan objectives have yet to be met and must be addressed.

You should receive a copy of the new care plan before you leave the meeting.

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