Care plans are required in all federally funded long-term care facilities. Any facility who accepts Medicare or Medicaid are required to have care plan meeting. This means that Assisted Living and Residential Care facilities are not required to have care plan meetings since they do not provide Medicare or Medicaid (cash grant does not apply). A care plan is a meeting where all the department heads involved in a resident’s care get together and discuss the plan of care for each resident every three months.
When a resident is first admitted to a facility the facility staff have 21 days to do a complete evaluation of the resident. Within 7 days from the evaluation the facility must have the initial care plan meeting. Families are to be invited to the care plan meetings. During these meetings the staff will discuss the medical status of the resident with problems outlined and goals set for addressing the problems for the next three months and family members will be allowed to discuss their concerns and have staff work out a plan of action to address their concerns.
How to Prepare for Your Care Plan Meeting
- Make a point to have your loved one at the care plan, if they are able to participate. The staff should address your loved one and listen to what they want.
- Come prepared – make a list of any questions/concerns you would like to have addressed. Without a list it is easy to forget some of the areas you needed to discuss.
- Take an active part in the discussion. Remember, you know your family member better than anyone. Offer the staff resolutions that have worked for you loved one in the past. Let them know what’s been tried and did not work. If you have ideas of something that may work let the staff know.
- Once the plan is in place, the facility will ask you to “sign-off” on the discussion and the expected outcomes from the meeting. If you have voiced concerns, make sure what the facility has offered to do to fix any concerns are detailed in the care plan notes. Then make sure to follow up with the appropriate department head to give feedback on what changes you have noticed (both positive and negative!)
- You have a right to have an advocate present with you at the care plan. Our firm, through our elder care coordinator, frequently attends these meetings as part of our life care planning services. If you can not afford an attorney, you could consider contacting the Ombudsman. These are federally mandated advocates for residents in long-term care facilities.
When facilities schedule care plans they usually only allow 15 minutes per resident. If you have concerns you would like to discuss and need more time than that call the Care Plan Coordinator and tell them that you will require more time and they can schedule accordingly. After a care plan meeting the Care Plan Coordinator will pass on any concerns you had with the appropriate department heads for follow-through. Give them a couple of weeks to correct any problems. If you find that the problems are not being addressed call the facility and talk to the department head involved, if the problem is a nursing issue talk to the Director of Nursing, if it is a dietary issued talk to the Head of Dietary etc.. .
Remember, YOU are your loved one’s best advocate, don’t be afraid to take an active role!!
If you want to discuss any concerns on care planning that you might have, or how to successfully advocate for care on behalf of a loved one, including making sure their resources are being used as efficiently as possible, please contact our St. Charles office for a consultation at 636-486-9009.