For older adults living in skilled nursing facilities, a care conference with the facility staff is an important meeting. What are the signs that a care conference isn’t going as well as it should? Our elder Care Coordinator, Claire Merendino, has attended hundreds of care conferences over the years, and she can tell in an instant whether the care conference will be productive—or not.
According to Claire, here are the telltale signs of a bad care conference.
Sign #1: Staff Members Don’t Show Up
Social workers at long-term care facilities schedule care conferences months in advance. Everything is on a master calendar, which means all the professionals who interact with your loved one knows the meeting is coming. “If the only person who shows up is the social worker, that’s a bad sign,” Claire said. “You might be told that the nurse is busy passing meds. The dietitian is meeting with the kitchen. The activities person is on the floor. While it’s true that just about every facility is short-staffed, if the professionals who should be attending the meeting can’t make it, they should at least send a report detailing how things are going with the resident.”
Sign #2: Disorganization
When the professionals who attend your care conference come without the information needed to answer questions, it’s a bad sign. Claire says that the resident’s medical chart is an especially important document. “If one of my clients has questions about their resident’s health, I should be able to read through the chart and get information that will help answer the question,” Claire said. “For instance, if a family is concerned about their loved one’s weight, we can look at the chart and see what the resident’s weight is now, and what it was a month ago. It’s important to have the data.”
Sign #3: Irritation
If the staff members who attend your loved one’s care conference get angry when you press them for answers to questions they’re not answering, it’s a bad sign. “This often happens when they come to the meeting unprepared,” Claire advised. “Don’t back down. Don’t leave that room without making sure that someone gets back to you with answers.”
Sign #4: No Conference
The ultimate sign of a bad care conference is one that doesn’t happen. By laws, care conferences are to happen upon admission to a facility, quarterly thereafter, or whenever there is a significant change in the resident’s condition. “Given the upheavals due to COVID, some facilities aren’t scheduling care conferences at all,” Claire cautioned. Some will document that they did a care conference when the family was not notified about it. It happens all too often.”
If your loved one lives in a nursing home, and you’re experiencing these signs, what should you do? Claire says that family members must be willing to rock the boat. This kind of advocacy is often easier when you have an elder care coordinator by your side. “When my clients have care conferences, I help them prepare, and then attend with them,” she said. “When issues come up, they don’t have to be the bad guy. I’m happy to play that role if it means better care for the resident.”
A life care plan gives you the services of an elder care coordinator who helps you hold facilities accountable and makes sure your loved one is getting the care they deserve. Contact our office today to see how a life care plan can help your family.