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How to Lead Effective Meetings

With new regulations and a constantly growing list of demands, nurse assessment coordinators are busier than ever. To accomplish everything (or everything possible) on their lists, NACs need to find new efficiencies. Scheduling and executing effective and efficient meetings is one way that NACs and their interdisciplinary teams can make more time in the day. Linda Shell, DNP, MA, RN, principal of lindashell.com, suggests taking a look at all of the upcoming meetings on your calendar, especially long-standing ones, and considering these best practices:

1)      Start with the end in mind. Every meeting should have a clear purpose and a clear sense of what you want to have achieved at the end of it. The IDT meeting is a good example of where the end goal often gets lost, Shell says. “People attend the IDT meeting because it’s part of the process, forgetting that the goal for the meeting is to improve the quality of care that we are providing for the resident.” Shell notes that it is evident that the goal is lost when someone says, “We don’t need to worry about this resident. He’s fine.” According to Shell, “Our goal is not to make sure that our residents are just doing fine. Our goal as caregivers is to ensure that residents’ care plans highlight their strengths and address their weaknesses, and that our residents are reaching the best quality of life possible.”

2)      Have the right people in the room. When you don’t have the right people in the room, you can’t get what you need accomplished. Shell observes that “it is often a clue that you have the wrong people in the room when specific people never contribute.” When you don’t have the right people in the room, you end up wasting everybody’s time.

3)      When it comes to care-planning meetings, don’t just dive into the resident’s problems. For care-planning meetings, it is a best practice to start the meeting by having a team member share a positive story or comment about the resident. It only takes a minute, but it is a minute well spent. “When we dive right into ADLs, toileting, etc., we can lose part of the human experience of the resident,” says Shell. “Taking a minute to share something positive helps the care team to recenter people around the goal of the meeting. It is a reminder that we are doing good work, particularly through small changes.”

4)      Have an agenda with time frames. “With so much going on in a skilled nursing facility every day, it’s easy for conversations to go off on tangents,” says Shell. In addition to specifying time frames, she also suggests listing the objectives at the top of the agenda to keep everyone’s mind on the matters at hand.

5)      Assign a timekeeper. A designated timekeeper prevents people from feeling unfairly cut off. “It’s okay for someone to be the bad guy. Having a timekeeper gets everyone in the habit of understanding time constraints,” shares Shell.

6)      Have a parking lot for tabled topics. “When a meeting takes too many turns, it risks stealing time from another resident’s review” and other such matters, stresses Shell. “Have a white piece of paper for the timekeeper to write down all of the additional things that come up that need to be talked about further. For example, a family complaining about a laundry issue. At the end of the meeting, review the parking lot issues and decide how they need to be addressed and who needs to be in on the conversation.” The parking lot ensures that additional issues will be addressed at an appropriate time with the people who will be able to resolve them.

7)      Set a specific time to address follow-up issues. It’s imperative to follow up on parked issues. “By setting a specific time for follow-up, everyone will feel comfortable tabling the conversation until it can be resolved,” stresses Shell.

8)      Tack on a topic. When possible, tack issues needing follow-up onto an already scheduled meeting, instead of setting a new meeting, suggests Shell. Also, consider whether there are meetings that are similar in nature and have similar attendees that could be blended together. “This helps to limit the volume of meetings,” says Shell.

9)      Consider location of meetings. “If possible, it’s ideal to have meetings about residents on the unit, near the residents and nurses. This way, you can quickly ask, for example, how a specific resident has been doing with taking their medications,” Shell strongly suggests. “If you are in a conference room away from the unit, it often creates a delay and the need for later follow-up.”

10)   Make a stand-up, a stand-up! Morning stand-up meetings are meant to be held standing, which is intended to help keep these meetings quick. “More and more, I see these meetings being held at a conference table. Sure enough, there is casual conversation and the meeting takes much longer than intended.” According to Shell, “there is a time and place for casual conversation, but it’s not the morning stand-up.”

11)   Always evaluate. “Never end a meeting without evaluating it, at least informally,” according to Shell. “Just asking, What was most useful to you about this meeting? can provide very helpful feedback.” If you get a mediocre response, such as, It was a good time to talk about the resident, it might be time to consider how to improve the meeting. The more specific the responses, the better. “A very good response would be, It was good to discuss managing Mary’s falls,” says Shell.

Meetings are great times for team building and getting things done, especially when scheduled and executed well. With the right planning and attitude, meetings can be an opportunity instead of a burden. Want more help? Download AANAC’s template for an effective meeting.

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Reviewed March 5, 2020