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How residents view care conferences

April 18, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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Care conferences occur here every March, June, September, and December. Since my sister was not always able to attend in those months, the facility allowed us to schedule when it was more convenient.

In my first few years as a resident I noticed that if I did not request to attend my conferences, they would be held without me. My sister received the conference invitation too close to the scheduled date, and she had to constantly reschedule. If my sister could not get here physically, she participated by conference call. I wanted her to be involved because she has a different view of my situation. She asks direct questions and does not allow the facility's bureaucracy much wiggle room. She feels services and questions should be handled promptly.

Back then the MDS nurse handled care conferences. They began with any medicine changes or doctor's orders, and followed by lab or medical procedure test results. That nurse told us everything that had gone on since my last conference. It was helpful because many times I forgot things which had previously occurred.

Those meetings were held in a conference room and most department heads attended. Each one would add information regarding my diet, activity involvement, and nursing issues or questions. Then my sister and I asked questions and expressed concerns.

In the past few years care conferences have been moved to an office where the quarters are tight. The licensed social worker who conducts them is very informal. He usually asks, "What has been going on?" My sister and I prefer structure, so I try to get them to follow the old structure. Things do seem to proceed better, but I have noticed that no one appears to be taking notes. I wonder how they remember everything that has been discussed. After mulling this point my sister reminded me that the purpose for notes is to assure those presenting that their issues are important enough to be written down and acted upon. The social worker may remember everything we discuss, but I would not want to leave it to chance.

My recent care conference addressed many issues. Some were ongoing and may be brought up at future meetings. Others need to be acted on quickly. During the conference I remembered that several issues from the January conference had not been completed. Without notes, or an abstract of the conference's discussions, there is no way for the staff to follow up.

Care conferences are vital to bringing all key players together at the same table. Even though we residents are discussed at daily meetings, conferences with family members in attendance allow issues to be brought forward that might otherwise go unaddressed.

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Comments

People shouldn't wait till Care Conference to have their questions answered or make complaints. All too often some relative who never visits will show up and say "Two months ago, Mom was left with a dirty shirt" "Did you mention this to the nurse AT THE TIME?" I ask. "No"...We cannot address issues months old. We have 15 minutes for each care plan. The care a resident receives should be reviewed on an ongoing basis. We shouldn't wait for the conference.
PS. I'm a DNS and have been in LTC for more than 20 years.

Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...