What is a Life Care Plan?

A person with chronic injuries or illnesses often requires a “life care plan”.  A life care plan is a document that identifies a person’s future medical and supportive care needs.[1]  The document is created by a professional known as a life care planner.

A life care plan can be used in consultation with patients, families, rehabilitation professionals, and case managers to coordinate the best medical care and support for an injured or chronically ill person.  A life care plan can also be used in a legal setting to accurately project the nature and cost of an injured person’s long term care needs.

Most respected life care planners follow a consistent methodology when creating life care plans.  The process includes comprehensive review of available medical records, interview of the patient, home assessment, consultation with the patient’s health care providers, research of specific care needs based on the patient’s injury or illness, consideration of relevant research literature, and review of medical cost information from various sources within the geographic region where the patient resides.

The content of a life care plan is highly individualized to the needs of the patient.  Depending on a patient’s specific needs, a life care plan can include: evaluations by various health care providers, therapy (including physical therapy, occupational therapy, recreation therapy, speech therapy, etc.), medication, diagnostic testing, counseling, wheelchair or other mobility needs, home care, surgeries, transportation needs, orthotic or prosthetic needs, home renovations, recreational equipment, and aids for independent function.  Replacement and maintenance schedules for durable medical equipment and detailed cost information are also included.  Life care plans do not typically include treatment for complications since the likelihood of occurrence, future onset date, severity, and duration of complications are difficult to project.  Likewise, future advances in medical technology are not considered since they cannot be accurately predicted.

Life care planners are professionals who may come from varied backgrounds.  These backgrounds include nurses, rehabilitation counselors, and case managers.  Many professionals choose to pursue board certification in life care planning which is granted by the Commission on Health Care Certification.[2]

About the author: Jason W. Konvicka is a personal injury attorney experienced in handling catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. He also represents persons severely injured through the use of defective drugs and medical devices. Jason has achieved significant verdicts and settlements for clients in spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and tractor trailer accident cases. Mr. Konvicka is AV rated by Martindale-Hubble and is listed in Best Lawyers in America. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and he has successfully argued before the Virginia Supreme Court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

[1] “The life care plan is a dynamic document based upon published standards of practice, comprehensive assessment, data analysis, and research, which provides and 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 Association of Rehabilitation Professionals, http://www.rehabpro.org/sections/ialcp/focus/standards/section-i-introduction

[2] http://www.ichcc.org/clcp.html