Information is such a powerful tool in providing excellent healthcare that sharing it is a core value of familycentered care at Children’s Hospital. The more parents and guardians understand about their child’s health, illness and treatment, the more confident they can be in making decisions about their child’s care. Just as important is the information you can share with doctors and nurses about your child, since you know her best.
When your child has a complicated or serious illness and several different specialties are involved in her treatment, the information can be overwhelming. When your child is in the Hospital, the child’s care team will often arrange for a family meeting in which her main doctor and representatives from the specialties that also treat her come together with you to exchange information and talk about the care plan.
To help make family meetings as beneficial as possible, a group that included doctors, nurses, social workers and parents created a series of forms to help prepare for the meetings held in the Hospital.
“Our goal was to create a framework to improve family meetings — from both the parents’ and the clinicians’ perspective,” says Jennifer K. Walter, MD, PhD, MS, who led the group. “The best way to deliver the safest, highest quality care is to have families and clinicians well prepared for these meetings.”
Parents are encouraged to fill out the Family Meeting Worksheet for Families, which guides you through a series of questions to clarify your understanding of your child’s current condition, express your short- and long-term goals for your child, and list any questions or concerns you may have. A social worker or nurse can assist you with the worksheet. You can then use the same form to take notes during the meeting so you’ll have the answers to your questions and the decisions that were made, all on the same pages.
Members of your child’s care team also prepare with their own Pre-meeting Worksheet, which helps organize the information and recommendations from all the clinicians involved in your child’s care and proposes a care plan.
The Next Steps Worksheet will be completed during the meeting, and you’ll be given a copy. It summarizes the meeting and outlines the care plan going forward.
“These forms will help make family meetings more organized and thoughtful,” says Amy Kratchman, a CHOP family consultant who participated in creating them. “At CHOP, partnership between families and the care team is paramount, and this is a tool to facilitate building that partnership.”