If you have a loved one with a disability or an older parent who has recently moved to a care community, this term may be new for you. Care conferences are a routine event for all types of providers ranging from hospice to assisted living and nursing homes. They provide family and staff with an opportunity to discuss how the patient or resident’s needs are being managed and what new challenges they are experiencing.

Most care conferences are interdisciplinary which means the staff that attends will be from a variety of backgrounds ranging from nurses and physical therapists to social workers and life enrichment professionals. Depending upon the care setting, their physician may also be present.

These conferences provide the care team an opportunity to share what they see with one another and give the family a chance to ask questions and talk more about their concerns. The team will discuss the best options to pursue to resolve concerns and set goals and deadlines for implementing these new tactics.

Care conferences are a regulatory requirement for skilled nursing centers and, in some states, for assisted living communities. Unless the resident is in crisis, most care conferences are held on a quarterly basis, but families can request one at any time if they feel they need it.

Preparing For Your Conference

If you are a family member preparing for your first care conference, it is a good idea to prepare a list of questions to ask before the meeting. It might be difficult to do if you are unhappy with the care community, but try to go in to the conference with the belief that the staff wants to do whatever it takes to help provide the best possible care for your loved one.

Here are a few questions you can ask if you will be attending your first care conference:

1. Is your loved one participating in activities or social events that you aren’t aware of? If not, is there a way the community could integrate their hobbies and interests into their upcoming activities?

2. Are they eating and drinking enough? Have they been weighed to see if they have gained or lost weight?

3. Are there any special therapies or treatments that are being provided? Are there any new ones they could try?

4. How often does the physician visit? When was the last visit? What do the notes from them say about their condition?

5. Which staff members are their primary caregivers? What about overnight staff? Who has oversight for their care during the time you probably aren’t visiting them?

6. Is there anything they need that isn’t being provided?

Finally, be sure to bring your calendar to the meeting with you. Set the date for the next care conference with the staff before you leave. Having family consistently involved in a resident’s care is one of the most effective ways to ensure they receive the best quality of care.