What Is Life Care Planning?

When a person has been involved in a catastrophic accident, their quality of life is changed forever. As a result of the incident, they often face sustained health challenges for as long as they live. A life care plan is a document that assesses their injury and plans for the costs of their future medical care needs.

The Individualized Nature of Life Care Plans

According to the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals, “The life care plan is a dynamic document which provides an organized, concise plan for current and future needs with associated costs for individuals who have experienced catastrophic injury or have chronic health care needs.” There are many elements which can make up a life care plan. They can include (but not be limited to): doctor visits, diagnostic testing, surgeries, physical or occupational therapy, medications, medical devices, equipment, and accessories, home care services, and medical transportation needs [1]. Once these elements are included, the cost for each item is estimated and projected out over the remaining course of the injured party’s life.

Life care planning is a dynamic and fluid process. The most important aspect of life care plans is that they are customized to the individual. It would be challenging to use a templated approach based on the type of injury sustained, disease, or diagnosis because each body is unique. Symptoms and complications manifest differently in each case. Plus, people enter an injured state with their particular set of circumstances (including previous medical history, recovery support from family & friends, their mental capacity for dealing with suffering and will for recovery) which affects their road to recovery. The life care plan should be created from a perspective that considers how the critically injured or chronically ill person has been affected by their diagnosis.

Uses and Applications For Life Care Plans

Life care plans are used mostly by attorneys litigating injury cases. They are a useful tool for both plaintiff and defense attorneys. Plaintiff attorneys typically request one when multiple medical scenarios need to be addressed. Defense attorneys sometimes seek a critique or an analysis of a life care plan submitted to them. In some cases, they may commission another plan to compare it to the one provided to them to ensure its reasonableness.

Life care plans are also beneficial post-litigation for trust administrators who manage the money for injury settlement winners. Some trust administrators also work with wealthy individuals. They use life care plans as a tool to assist in budgeting for their client’s medical needs. It helps them identify what is most likely than not to occur during the remainder of their client’s lifetime. They are beneficial overall for anyone who needs to generate a budget for future medical care.

Once created, the life care plan can be referenced by anyone who has a hand in caring for the chronically ill individual: doctors, nurses, specialists, therapists, and others. The document allows for easy collaboration and communication between the various health care providers involved so that everyone is on the same page concerning the patient’s care. That is one of the benefits of the document’s fluidity.

Who Creates Life Care Plans

The IARP (International Association of Rehabilitative Professionals) issues a “CLCP” designation to certify life care planners. They grant the CLCP to anyone who is a health care provider and has served in the healthcare field for at least three to five years. Physical therapists, case managers, social workers, doctors, nurses, and more can receive the CLCP designation. Any vocational rehabilitation specialists can be certified. With this wide variety of medical disciplines which can be certified, each will utilize their unique methodology when creating your life care plan.

The Benefits of Having a Nurse Write Your Life Care Plan

My colleagues and I believe that of all the different types of life care planners you can hire, nurses offer the most beneficial approach to the practice. We bring our training and critical thinking skills to the discipline, and we build on that foundation. As nurses, we not only consider the diagnoses, but we also take into consideration how the individuals are affected and are responding thus far to treatment.

Nurses tend to be incredibly detailed when planning for the rest of someone’s future and when identifying all of the medical and non-medical needs they may have over the course of their lifetime are they age. For example, a doctor who is a certified life care planner might include a surgery that costs $200,000 in their plan. However, a nurse wouldn’t only look at the cost of that one surgery. We also take into consideration extra equipment, physical therapy, doctors visits, medication, home care services, and other items that could balloon the final cost of that surgery to $300K.

The doctor wasn’t incorrect in is costing, but because of their discipline, they don’t usually assist patients with their needs after the surgery so they may not consider all the additional elements. Because nurses are familiar with providing care for patients in many ways outside of doctors visits, we are very familiar with all the various hidden costs a patient might rack up that other professionals might miss. Our unique experiences and holistic approach results in our ability to provide life care plans with the most comprehensive and accurate cost for future care.

All life care planners can predict for the future to the best of our abilities, but it may at times be difficult to anticipate all the intricacies or complications that might cause the budget to go awry. By choosing a nurse as your life care plan creator, we are in the best position to predict future needs and associated costs with the most reasonable degree of medical certainty. When a life care plan has accurate costing from the outset, it ensures the patient will not run out of money for their medical needs due to poor planning.

If you would like to consider my team and me for creating your life care plan, contact us for a no-obligation consultation.

[1] https://connect.rehabpro.org/lcp/about/new-item/new-item5

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