What is a life care plan?
According to the agreed-upon definition, “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.) It is a way to plan for the lifetime needs of an individual with a disability.
According to life care planning methodology, topics which are considered for inclusion in a life care plan include evaluations, therapies, diagnostic testing, medical and adaptive equipment, aids for independent functioning, prescription and nonprescription medications, home care/facility care, routine medical care, transportation, architectural modifications, potential complications, surgical intervention, and vocational services. There is a standardized procedure for gathering information to develop a life care plan, including doing an interview with the client and family members, reviewing medical records and supporting documents such as depositions, day in the life videos, school records, employment records, and tax returns, consulting with treatment providers and/or experts, and researching costs and sources for treatment.
Life care planners are a diverse group of rehabilitation professionals representing nurses, rehabilitation counselors, occupational therapists, physical therapists, social workers, physicians, and psychologists. Life care plans are used in workers’ compensation claims, civil litigation, mediation, reserve setting for insurance companies, federal vaccine injury fund cases, discharge planning, Medicare set-asides, elder care, and other arenas. Life care planning is an established field with national certifications, professional organizations, research, role and function studies and published standards of practice. Life care planning precertification programs are offered which provide 120 hours of specialized training to meet the educational requirements necessary to sit for the Certified Life Care Planner (CLCP), Canadian Certified Life Care Planner (CCLCP) or Certified Nurse Life Care Planner (CNLCP) exam.