Case Conferences in Practice

Case Conferences

What we know

Effective and consistent communication is an important component of palliative care. A family meeting or case conference can assist with communication between patient, key family members, substitute decision-makers and the care team. It can be used to plan care and make decisions relating to end-of-life in accordance with a person’s preferences. The existing evidence is scant but has shown positive results particularly in the care of people with dementia.

What can I do?

When reviewing care needs of residents or clients, consider whether there are any indications of the need for a case conference.

Ensure that a case conference is well prepared and well facilitated, is accurately documented, that care plans are updated accordingly, and all relevant people are informed of the outcomes.

Ensure that the changes to care are reviewed and evaluated.

Make use of:

GPs participating in the GP Palliative Shared Care Program can use the Case Conference Record and Care Plan Template (183kb word doc).

What can I learn?

Check out the Multidisciplinary Case Conferences information provided by the Department of Health and Aged Care.

Download the CareSearch list of MBS items for GPs providing palliative care-related services.

Learn about how facilitated case conferencing can support the care of people with dementia and their carers.

Read the Family meetings in palliative care: multidisciplinary clinical practice guidelines (2008) and use the included resources.

Read the PCNow Factsheet on Moderating an end of life family conference

What can my organisation do?

Support staff to develop high-level communication skills and the ability to successfully conduct case conferences.

Provide staff with tools to facilitate and document case conferences.

Ensure that residents and clients, their family and substitute decision-maker(s) have information to understand the objectives and benefits of case conferences and, when one is arranged, that they know how to prepare for a case conference.

The following (where appropriate) can be incorporated into practice as useful prompts to arrange and conduct a case conference:

  • admission to residential aged care facility (RACF)
  • return to RACF following discharge from hospital
  • increase in falls
  • change in clinical status
  • new/worsening symptoms
  • poor appetite or skin integrity
  • annual management review plan
  • receipt of a complaint
  • family disagreement about care
  • family distress

Consider creating partnerships with researchers to improve the evidence base and strengthen the understanding of how case conferences can benefit older people receiving palliative care and the validation of tools which assist the conduct of case conferences.

Page last updated 02 August 2022