In the first article in this series, we talked about how Care Plans are developed shortly after an older adult is admitted to a long-term care facility. What happens with the Care Plan if the elder will be in the facility for a long time?
After the initial Care Plan Meeting with the resident, family members, and the resident’s legal representatives, the Care Plan must be revisited at least once a year, with reviews every three months and when there is a significant change in a resident’s condition. If your loved one’s Care Plan never changes, consider it a red flag.
What does a good ongoing Care Plan look like? It should be specific, individualized, and written in common language that everyone can understand. It should reflect your loved one’s choices and support his or her well-being, functioning, and rights. Staff must talk to you about treatment decisions, such as medications and therapies, and can only do what is agreed to. You may have to be persistent about your concerns, choices, and preferences.
If you or your elderly loved one make a request and that request is denied, don’t be afraid to ask why. There may be regulations that govern what the facility can do. Seek specific answers to your questions and politely insist that any concerns you have are addressed. If you agree on a course of treatment or on a resolution to a problem, ask the staff to make sure it will be included in the Care Plan. Don’t forget to clarify who is responsible for implementation and monitoring.
Before every Care Planning meeting, it’s important to prepare. Talk to your elderly loved one in advance and then make a list of what needs to be discussed. Does your loved one have needs or preferences that haven’t been addressed? Write them down. What’s working? What’s not working? Write it down. Do you have questions about the way things work at the facility? Have things changed? Write them down.
When you request the Care Plan Meeting, ask the staff to hold the meeting when your family can attend if you want them there. Keep in mind that some facilities may allot about 15 minutes for a Care Plan Meeting. This isn’t much time, especially if family members or the resident’s legal representative will be attending. If you feel that you’re being rushed, stand your ground. Make sure that the meeting ends only when all your questions have been answered.
During the meeting, go down your list. Discuss options for your loved one’s treatment and for meeting his or her needs and preferences. Ask questions if you need terms or procedures explained to you. Make sure that you understand and agree with your loved one’s Care Plan, and that it meets her or her needs. Ask for a copy of the Care Plan and find out who you need to speak to if changes need to be made.
Dealing with facility staff and administrators during Care Plan Meetings can be a scary process for family caregivers. When you enter the facility, you’re on their turf and in their world. It can be overwhelming and intimidating. That’s why so many families in the Orlando area call the Flammia Elder Law Firm for help. Sometimes you need advocacy. That’s when you’ll appreciate having the power of an elder law firm backing you up. You may not enjoy dealing with facilities, but I do. It’s my job to make your job easier. I love what I do, and I would love to help you. Just give us a call.