Teaming Up for Care: The Importance of Care Team Meetings

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • When a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease is living in a nursing home, how can caregivers ensure that their needs are being met? For instance when I visit Mom in the afternoon, I often ask Mom what she did that day, and she will reply “nothing.” Because of her short term memory loss, she rarely remembers what she had for lunch or whether she participated in bingo.

    That’s why I value the care team meetings that the nursing home holds on a quarterly basis. Similar to a parent/teacher conference that are held in schools, these meetings provide an opportunity for family members to hear from the professionals about what’s going on in their loved one’s life. These meetings also serve as a forum for concerns to be addressed.
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    The care team at my mom’s nursing home includes a nursing staff member, the activity director, the dietician and the social worker. They’ll tell me about various issues, such as whether Mom’s weight is stable, whether she’s experiencing any new symptoms that they are addressing, and whether she’s participating in social activities. The meeting lasts about 30 minutes, but it’s time well spent.

    I always try to use these meetings to ask questions about my mother’s condition and what I should expect. At the last care team meeting, we had a good discussion about the challenges Mom was having in transitioning to her new environment following her move to a new room in June. Mom had been assigned to the dining room in which residents were able to feed themselves, and was seated with people who she didn’t know. I commented that I had been to see Mom during dinner time several times and that Mom wasn’t eating; she also was having trouble using eating utensils. One day, my father and I even brought dinner in from a local restaurant; we found that Mom couldn’t handle eating one of her favorite foods, quesadillas, which only required using her fingers.

    The care team meeting ended up being a perfect time to talk about this situation. The dietician said she would ask the cafeteria staff and the aides to watch Mom, and soon thereafter arranged to have her transferred to the dining hall where assistance was readily available. Now, Mom is eating her meals with no problems.

    I will address immediate problems that Mom is experiencing with the appropriate staff members; however, care team meetings allow me to get a holistic view of what’s going on with Mom. These meetings also provide an opportunity to build a trusting relationship with the professionals who see my mother 24/7. I want to make sure that they know that I am an active participant in Mom’s life and want to ensure that she has the best care possible. Being visible in these care team meetings is one way to get that message across.

Published On: September 21, 2006