Life Care Planning FAQ

1. Basic description of the role of the life care planner - What do you do?

There is an official definition of life care planning, which is as follows:

“The life care plan is a dynamic document based upon published standards of practice, comprehensive assessment, data analysis, and research, 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."           
(International Conference on Life Care Planning and the International Academy of Life Care Planners. (Adopted 1998, April). Definition of Life Care Planning. Presented at the Forensics Section meeting of the NARPPS [now known as the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals] Annual Conference, Colorado Springs, Colorado.)

But, what do life care planners actually do?  

Life care planners evaluate individuals with disabilities or chronic health conditions in order to outline the needs created by the disability.  The life care planner develops an integrated plan that includes items and services required, along with specific costs.  The life care plan addresses current and future needs and costs.

2. Where do I get information about a career in life care planning?

There are a variety of ways to learn about life care planning.  A simple internet search will provide information regarding training programs, conferences, etc.  Networking with practicing life care planners is one of the best ways to acquire knowledge about how people get into life care planning.  One way to find practicing professionals is to participate in their professional organizations, such as IARP and the IARP Life Care Planning Section – IALCP.  IALCP has many experienced life care planners who are willing to offer 1-2 hours of mentoring and/or coaching to new life care planners.  The IALCP and the IARP Forensic discussion groups on IARP Connect are great places to ask for assistance.  

IARP has an annual conference, which includes relative life care planning topics, as well as one full day known as the life care planning symposium (International Symposium on Life Care Planning – ISLCP). At this conference, individuals can enhance their knowledge in the field of life care planning.  You may want to consider attending this and other conferences (or webinars) focused on life care planning practice.  These provide knowledge and rich networking opportunities.  

There are also publications devoted to life care planning, including IALCP’s Journal of Life Care Planning.  The American Association of Nurse Life Care Planners also publish a journal.

3. Where can I find low cost or free conferences and training to help me gain and refine my skills in the rehabilitation field?

Many professional associations provide member discounts and even occasional free educational webinars.  However, it should be noted that if you want to gain new information and/or refine your skills, you will likely need to pay for most learning opportunities.

4. Are there undergraduate, associate degree or graduate programs for life care planners? Are there certificate programs?

Life care planning is a transdisciplinary specialty practice and may be performed by rehabilitation professionals, nurses, physicians, therapists, psychologists, etc.  The undergraduate and/or graduate training programs are specific to each professional discipline, e.g., rehabilitation counseling, nursing, etc.  There are several certificate programs that provide training specific to life care planning. 

5. Are careers in life care planning in Canada different from the US?

There are differences in life care planning practice depending on the country in which you (or the individual with a disability) live.  These differences are primarily related to differences in legal and/or health care systems.  However, the methodology used in developing life care plans is basically the same, with a focus on the individual and their needs and goals.

6. What part of the total rehabilitation industry is the starting point?

Rehabilitation professionals who practice life care planning come from varying paths.  As noted, life care planning practice is transdisciplinary.  However, prior experience usually involves “hands on” experience with rehabilitation and individuals with disabilities and/or chronic health conditions.  

7. What’s the relationship of a case manager to the role of the life care planner?

Life care plans began as tools of case management and can be used in consultation with patients, families, rehabilitation professionals, and catastrophic case managers.  There is a long history of the provision of rehabilitation services that include multiple services for people with disabilities.  Since the life care plan first emerged in the rehabilitation literature in Guide to Rehabilitation in 1985(Deutsch & Sawyer, 1985), the concept has grown immeasurably to represent the most effective case management method within the industry, particularly with regard to complex medically challenging cases (Blackwell et al, 1997; Deutsch et al., 1989; Kitchen et al., 1989; Weed & Sluis, 1990).

In some instances, Life Care Planners are also Case Managers. To simply the relationship question, case management is the implementation of services recommended in a care plan, while life care planning is the projection of services and the related costs.  

8. Is there some certification for life care planners?  Where do I find information?

Certification is not required for practice as a life care planner.  Numerous life care planners are certified by either the Commission on Health Care Certification (CHCC) as Certified Life Care Planners (CLCP) and/or by the Certified Nurse Life Care Planner Certification Board (CNLCPCB) as Certified Nurse Life Care Planners (CNLCP).  Information relating to certification requirements is available directly through those entities.

9. Which professional associations serve the needs of the life care planner?

IARP/IALCP and AANLCP are the most well-known professional associations serving life care planners.  Most life care planners also belong to the associations that serve their specific professional disciplines.  While it is not a professional association, the Care Planner Network ( is a prominent online community of life care planners and case management professionals.

10. How do I actually contact others in the field?

Reach out and just ask!  Join the professional associations, join the discussion groups, check directories for potential local contacts. Face to face "networking" is always encouraged, for example, attend local IARP chapter activities and national conferences.  You will find that many life care planners are willing to share their knowledge, experience and insights.

11. Are there coaching or mentoring programs for those planning a career in life care planning?

IARP has mentoring and coaching programs.  Contact IARP directly for more information.  Many aspiring life care planners choose to establish working relationships with individual experienced life care planners prior to branching out on their own. It is not unusual to find a willing mentor to be outside the local area of where you live and work.  As many life care planners are self-employed, they often prefer not to train individuals who will eventually become their direct competitor.

12. What experience do I need to succeed?

As with many professional activities, people succeed for different reasons.  Having a clear understanding of Life Care Planning Standards of Practice and the customary methodologies used to develop a life care plans will enhance your ability to succeed in this specialty practice.  Experience dealing with various disabilities, understanding the medical aspects of disability, and having the ability to perform extensive research will help you succeed.  Having the ability to communicate effectively is essential. It is also important to take part in business networking with paraprofessionals, such as economists, vocational rehab counselors, case managers, reinsurers, and local and national attorney groups. Everyone starts out with their first life care plan.  It may be useful to shadow someone experienced in life care planning.

13. What’s the earning potential for an experienced life care planning?

Salaries for life care planners who work for an employer (insurance companies, rehabilitation case management companies, etc.) are determined by each employer, based on the size of the company, the geographic region, etc.  Independent life care planners charge varying amounts.  Most charge an hourly rate.  Your earning potential will be dependent on the quality of work, your professional reputation, and the extent of your referral base and your geographic location.  The best way to learn more specific information about earning potential is to network with other life care planners.

14. How do life care planners get paid?

Some life care planners work for an employer, in which case they get paid in the same manner all workers receive payment for their work.  Many life care planners work independently.  Independent life care planners are required to collect payment for their services by sending invoices and following up on payments.  

15. Who hires the life care planner?

Life care plans have historically been utilized  in a variety of settings and situations, including litigation (personal injury, medical malpractice, dissolution, employment, etc.), managed care, workers' compensation (including Medicare Set-asides), reserve setting for insurance companies, federal vaccine injury fund cases, family trusts, and others (Weed, 2010).  Each venue has special life care planning considerations.  

16. Are there standards for life care planners?  Codes of professional ethics?

Yes.  Copies of these are usually available through the professional associations.  IALCP published updated (3rd edition) Standards of Practice for Life Care Planners in 2015.
The 2nd Edition of the Standards of Practice for Life Care Planners includes the Code of Ethics for life care planners.  This can be located on the IARP website.  Plans are underway to provide a standalone life care planning Code of Ethics in the near future.  In the interim, life care planning ethics as published in the 2nd Edition of the SOP are in effect.

AANLCP provides their Scope and Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics on their website, found at

17. What are the hot buttons facing the industry that affect this specialty practice.

Issues that affect the practice of life care planning evolve with changes in case law, health care and legislation.  Currently, there is uncertainty about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could affect the documentation of future care costs.  Changes in health care, the legal system and disability research impact life care plans.  Life care planning professionals communicate via professional forums and participate in Summits and conferences to keep pace with emerging issues and trends.

18. Is the field growing?

In addition to documenting future costs for services, a Life Care Plan is a guide for the delivery of services for rehabilitation planning, implementation, and management of care and resources used for discharge planning, education planning, and long-term management.  Besides being used in litigation, it is a valuable tool used by managed care providers, case managers, discharge planners, trust officers, individuals and families.  The total number of practicing life care planners is not known, but the number of certified life care planners has steadily increased.

19. What journals or articles can I read?  Is there an online data base that has basic information?

Members of IARP receive The Rehabilitation Professional, the official journal of IARP, containing information on rehabilitation industry developments and research.  IALCP publishes the Journal of Life Care Planning, which is also available online.  Archived issues of both journals are available online.  Members of AANLCP have access to their professional journal, Journal of Nurse Life Care Planning.

Case management and clinical professional journals are also valuable resources for information on evidenced-based practice, clinical guidelines and disability specific topics.  

IARP Connect  is an online networking community connecting IARP members to share experience and knowledge, and participate in discussions.  Participation can further be defined by section, chapter or issue defined e-groups.  E-group is searchable.  The Care Planner Network ( provides an online community for sharing information about practice management, professional development, and challenging case issues.

AANLCP has a discussion group on LinkedIn.

20. What kind of research is done to back up life care plans? Where is it available?

The foundations for Life Care Plans come from medical, psychological, case management and rehabilitation resources.  These are derived from records, consultation, literature and clinical research.

The Foundation for Life Care Planning Research (, founded in 2002, is a non-profit research group with a primary focus on Life Care Planning validation studies and rehabilitation research.  The website has access to research articles and resources.

AANLCP has a Research Committee whose goal is to expand the body of knowledge and theory specific to the practice of nurse life care planning.

It should be noted that much of the research used to “back up” life care plan recommendations comes from medical and disability research findings, which are available in a myriad of medical and disability related journals.

Medical Foundation is established by:

  1. Drawing direct links between the medical records and recommendations in the plan.
  2. Writing the Medical and Allied Health treatment team members with plan questions not    answered in the existing records.
  3. Utilizing consulting specialists.
  4. Utilizing Clinical Practice Guidelines.
Rehabilitation Foundation is established by:
  1. Effective use of the medical and rehabilitation records through careful linking of this information to plan recommendations.
  2. Writing the Medical and Allied Health treatment team members with plan questions not answered in the existing records.
  3. Utilizing consulting specialists.
  4. Utilizing Clinical Practice Guidelines.
  5. Using Research Literature.
 Case Management and Psychological Foundations are established by:
  1. Effective use of the medical and rehabilitation records through careful linking of this information to plan recommendations.
  2. Writing the Medical and Allied Health treatment team members with plan questions not answered in the existing records.
  3. Writing the current case manager on the file.
  4. Utilizing consulting specialists.
  5. Using Clinical Practice Guidelines.


21. What training is there for a new life care planners?

Methods of training are as diverse as life care planners themselves.  The field of life care planning involves a number of diverse professionals including rehabilitation nurses, rehabilitation counselors, physical, occupational and speech therapists, psychologists, physicians, etc.  The life care planner often has experience in case management and case management certification (Certified Case Manager – CCM) is often helpful.

As discussed previously, there are a variety of post graduate life care planning programs which can be located via internet searches.  For example, IARP offers a webinar, Life Care Planning 101, which provides the participant with baseline information to be able to critically evaluate life care plans and to see if life care planning will fit into their future practice plans.

22. Must I be a nurse to succeed in life care planning and why?

Life care planners come from diverse backgrounds.  Many different professionals have been qualified in court as experts in life care planning.

23. Are there internships readily available?

It is possible to locate internship opportunities, but it is up to the individual prospective life care planner to research and network in order to locate these possibilities.  

24. Are there employment opportunities available through the IARP website?

On the IARP home page, the Job Bank section provides job postings.  Keep in mind that the above-mentioned recommended networking also leads to finding out about job possibilities!

25. Are most life care planners self-employed or do they work for companies that specialize in life care planning?

Life care planners work for others and for themselves.  The independent life care planners outnumber those who work for life care planning companies.

26. Where do I get specific information about how to start a private practice?

Many life care planners began private practice without specific training or education.  Others will advise that taking business or entrepreneurship courses would be helpful.  IARP does not provide specific business training, but the challenges of running a business are routinely discussed on most professional listservs.