Care Plan Meetings in New York Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

If you are a close friend or family member of a nursing home resident, you are entitled to participate in care plan meetings or conferences.  The resident, whenever possible, should also attend the meeting.  If the resident is unable to bring a relative or close friend to the conference, he or she may bring an outside professional such as a private nurse or social worker.

What is a Nursing Home Care Plan?

A care plan is a kind of road map, providing residents, families and facility staff with a series of goals and the steps to be taken in meeting those goals.  Care plans are required by all nursing home facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid, which includes 95% of all facilities in the U.S.  Within 14 days of admission to a nursing home, residents receive an assessment.  This is the initial opportunity for staff to become acquainted with the resident’s physical and mental condition, dietary and prescription drug needs, functional abilities, and routine care.  Within 7 days of the assessment, the facility must devise an individualized care plan for the resident.  The plan must take into account the resident’s treatment and care goals and establish time frames and objectives in order to fulfill those goals.  Care plans are regularly reviewed, either quarterly or when the resident’s condition changes, to see whether the plan is being followed or whether it needs to be adjusted.

Why Should I Attend Nursing Home Care Plan Meetings?

As a family member, you want to be sure that your loved one’s medical and non-medical needs have been properly identified and satisfactorily addressed.  Being present at the care plan conference provides you with a chance to meet the team of facility staff involved in your loved one’s care.  You can also learn about treatment strategies for your loved one, what tasks are assigned to specific staff members, and the methods for evaluating whether the care plan is actually working.

How Do I Participate in a Nursing Home Care Plan Meeting?

First, assume that the facility’s staff and administrators are working toward the best interests of the residents, as most of them are.  Prepare for the meeting by becoming fully familiar with the resident’s rights as well as your own.  You should also be prepared to protect and defend those rights when necessary.  Express yourself clearly, firmly and confidently, but with respect.  You want to ensure that the lines of communication remain open for future meetings.
The care plan meeting is also your opportunity to provide important background information about your loved one to facility staff.  Does the resident have a history of urinary incontinence, falls or confusion? Are there certain foods, activities or routines that the resident finds particularly comforting? The facility is required to provide individualized care.  So, if you have a suggestion as to how to enhance the resident’s nursing home stay, do not hesitate to share it.

What Kinds of Questions Should I Ask at a Nursing Home Treatment Plan?

The care plan meeting is your opportunity to learn about your loved one’s health and functional status.  You’ll also want to know of any changes that have occurred and how the staff is addressing them.  Some important questions you might ask are:

  • How often does the resident participate in activities or social events?
  • How much of his or her meals is the resident consuming? Have there been changes in the resident’s weight?
  • Is the resident receiving any special therapies, such as speech or physical therapy?
  • How often does the resident see a physician?
  • Have there been any changes in facility staff or administration?
  • What changes in the resident’s condition have occurred since the last meeting? What has caused these changes?
  • What changes to the care plan would staff recommend? Why?
  • Are the resident’s eyeglasses and hearing aid in good repair?
  • Does the resident require new clothing or other personal items?

When you participate in a care plan meeting, you help to ensure that your loved one is receiving the most appropriate services.  If you have any questions about care plan meetings and your right to be involved in them, contact the Orlow firm. (646) 647-3398