At a previous facility, care conferences were scheduled quarterly. But, since my sister worked and traveled, March meant a week in Florida. June was graduations and weddings. September was (well, my birthday's in September), and December was getting ready for the holidays, parties and shopping. So, we asked if management would schedule my conferences in January, April, August, and October; when my sister was free to participate, either in person or by conference call, and they agreed.
After I moved to this facility, my sister, then retired, participated in care conferences – when she could. Now, since she is in Florida most the time, I no longer expect her to participate. I share my concerns with her and get her feedback when she is available. I would rather have my sister concentrate on visiting with me when she is here, not attending a care conference.
Facilities routinely advise care conference attendees that the meetings should only last 15 minutes. I know my sister used to express frustration when she heard this. However, a previous facility and this facility would always take the time necessary for us to express our concerns comfortably.
The regional long-term care ombudsman has sometimes attended care conferences with me. I actually think it is helpful to have someone not affiliated or employed by the facility attend. That allows the resident to have another person's perspective and input.
At my previous facility and this one, there are times when I do not attend care conferences. Sometimes I just do not feel like it. Since I share my concerns with management and we communicate directly, I do not think I always need to be there.
Some of the younger residents here have shared their apprehension regarding care conferences. Most are anxious about them, particularly on the day of the conference. Some of them do not have a family member, friend or guardian who regularly attends with them. I have asked specific residents why they were anxious, but they never told me anything specific. Most are concerned about whether they can adequately express their concerns and be understood.
At a previous facility care conferences were conducted by an agenda. A resident's health was addressed first by updating attendees of prescription changes, doctor's orders and results of tests or procedures. One thing I learned was that "as needed" medicines (PRNs) are discontinued after 90 days if the resident has not taken any.
I think a conference is an opportunity for the resident and their family member to communicate, and develop a working relationship with facility management and other staff. It is a place for both resident and the care staff can talk about concerns, what is important, and to figure out what is best for the resident.