Let’s say you have Power of Attorney for your uncle. He moves to assisted living and then, some years later, to a nursing home. Each facility will create a care plan for him. A care plan is not the same thing as a medical record, and you need to know the differences between them.

Before we get to those differences, remember that your responsibilities don’t end when an assisted living facility or nursing home admits your loved one. If you’re his POA, you must still make decisions on his behalf, and to do so you need to know what’s happening on a daily or weekly basis.

A care plan includes a health assessment conducted the day the facility admits your loved one. Staff should update the health assessment every 90 days to determine whether his health status has changed. The plan also specifies the kinds of personal and/or health care services your loved one needs and how often, the types of staff who will provide these services, the equipment and supplies he’ll need, dietary restrictions, and personal goals. Ask regularly to see the plan to be sure he’s actually receiving the care it specifies.

A medical record tracks information such as medications and their dosages, vital signs, diagnoses, and medical tests and test results. You’ll need to provide the facility with your loved one’s medical records when he’s admitted or have his doctors forward the records. You may also need to be sure that medical professionals he sees offsite send their reports, diagnoses, and medication orders to the assisted living facility or nursing home.