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Patient Information about Case Conferences

You have been told a Case Conference is going to be held to discuss your care when you are discharged from hospital. Quite possibly you will not have heard of this before and this leaflet has been produced to answer some of the questions you and your relatives may have.

Question (Q). What is a 'Case Conference?'

Answer (A). A Case Conference is a planning meeting to arrange safe and appropriate care for you when you leave hospital. This is particularly important if you need help from several different staff groups. Not everyone will need a Case Conference.

Q. Why do you need to have a planning meeting? Why can't you just talk to me and my family?

A. Planning your discharge with you is important because, as a result of your illness, or the length of time you have been in hospital, your needs may now be different from before you came into hospital. It is possible that you may need help from both health and social services.

Q. I hope to be able to go home when I am well enough, but I don't think I can manage on my own. Is there any help available to me?

A. Yes there is. Part of the reason for this Case Conference is to discuss with you how well you may be able to cope, and what sort of help will be available to you. This is sometimes called a 'package of care'.

Q. What if I can't go home?

A. If you require more support than can be provided in your own home, we will explain and discuss other care options with you. You may find our leaflet on Transfer of Care helpful. Please ask your named nurse for a copy of this.

Q. All right, I can see the reason for having such a meeting, but who will be there?

A. There are no rules about who attends, and this is decided according to your particular situation. However, the following people are usually present:

  • Ward nurse: Where possible this would be the nurse who has been responsible for your hospital care. Sometimes it will be necessary for a deputy to represent him/her.

  • Doctor: This would usually be a senior doctor who has been closely involved in your hospital care. Often your consultant would do this.

  • Occupational Therapists (OT): These staff assess how much you are able to do, for example, are you able to wash and dress yourself, can you prepare and cook your meals? The OT will often visit your home with you before discharge, to check for any risks which may not have been important before your illness, and to see if equipment is needed to make your home life safer. For example, hand rails in the bathroom or next to steps, can make a real difference to helping you stay independent. Sometimes, when it is thought you will need a large package of care, the OT will, with your permission, carry out an environmental visit without you to assess the extent of adaptations you may require.

  • Physiotherapists: These staff may have been helping you regain mobility following your illness, and may be required to give advice, for example on mobility or exercises when you leave hospital.

  • Care Manager: These staff work from the social services department and will be able to arrange the package of care for you. They also know who to contact to arrange financial assessment if this is needed.

  • Discharge Team: The hospital has a team of people who help to organise a persons discharge from hospital where there are many different, and often complex needs.

  • District nurses or GP's: These Primary Care staff may be needed to call on you at home, either for advice or to continue some treatment. It is usually very important for your Primary Care team to be represented at the Case Conference.

Often other health professionals such as dietitians, speech and language therapists, and pharmacists will also attend if their advice is important to you.

Q. That's a lot of people isn't it? Who will ask me what I want to happen?

A. Your named nurse is responsible for ensuring your views are known, and he/she should have discussed your discharge with you, although you will probably not have had the opportunity to talk to all the people involved with your care at the same time. It is important that you are able to discuss what is important to you at the Case Conference, and we recommend that you have someone to help you, perhaps a relative or a friend.

Q. It seems there will be a lot of important people at the meeting, who understand more about this than me. I'm not sure my family or I would be listened to. What can I do about this?

A. There are a number of people who can help here. The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) works across Torbay Hospital and Primary Care. They offer impartial advice and support, and will be very happy to talk to you before the Case Conference, and even attend with you.

Q. That sounds helpful. How much notice will I get so that I can arrange someone to be with me?

A. We try to give as much notice as possible, but as you see, arranging a meeting with all these people is difficult, and we are sometimes limited by people's availability. We aim to give 5 working days notice so that you have time to prepare, and arrange for a family member to be available if this is what you wish.

If you would like more information about Case Conferences, your named nurse or the ward manager, who is the senior ward sister, will be able to help you.

Patient information prepared by Medical Directorate © South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, 10/04.

Date leaflet last updated: 04%2F10%2F2004