Life care planning is the process of developing a Life Care Plan (LCP) for an individual-adult or child-who has a congenital or acquired illness or injury that is expected to result in special needs and significant costs throughout the individual’s lifetime. More simply put, a life care plan is a disability cost analysis The majority of LCPs are developed for people who have suffered a traumatic injury, however, they are becoming more commonplace for older adults with chronic conditions to anticipate their health and financial needs in later years.
According to Weed (1998), the standard definition of a LCP is “a dynamic document based on published standards of practice, comprehensive assessment, data analysis and research, which provides an organized, concise plan for current and future needs with associated cost, for individuals who experienced catastrophic injury or have chronic health care needs” More intimately defined, a Life Care Plan is a written document that projects current and future medical and nonmedical needs and associated costs for a person with a chronic or catastrophic condition. In addition to projecting future medical care costs, it outlines a holistic program that helps prevent medical complications, enhances the participation of the individual within the community and society, considers quality of life issues, and assists in maintaining the emotional and psychological health of the individual.
Life care plans are developed by trained professionals in nursing, rehabilitation and related disciplines who have the education, experience and specific training that qualifies them to develop a LCP and provide expert witness testimony when needed. Life Care Planners can be either certified or non-certified. The LCP is developed in collaboration with the patient, family, medical and health care providers and all those who are concerned with coordinating, accessing, evaluating and monitoring necessary services.
Who Uses Life Care Plans?
A LCP is a valuable asset for attorneys, trustees, claim professionals, clients and families, as it documents the specific needs and lifetime costs for an individual with a chronic or catastrophic injury or illness. This allows those responsible for health and financial management to anticipate the client’s needs and related costs. LCPs are used in insurance settlement cases, court proceedings, trust administration, and in case management for people with special needs. In particular, those who find much benefit from a LCP are:
- Personal injury attorneys
- Medical malpractice attorneys
- Estate planning attorneys
- Rehabilitation teams
- Health care providers
- Clients and families
What Information is Included in a Life Care Plan?
The LCP is a very thorough document and will address the following Categories. Each LCP is unique as it takes into account individual differences in each client. Generally, the following categories will be included:
- Projected Evaluations
- Projected Therapeutic Modalities
- Orthotic / Prosthetic
- Home/Facility-based Care
- Future Medical Care
- Diagnostic Testing/Educational Assessment
- Architectural Renovations
- Wheelchair needs (accessories/maintenance)
- Health Maintenance and Equipment
- Future Surgical Intervention
- Supply Needs
- Aids for Independent Function
- Durable Medical Equipment
- Orthopedic Equipment
- Potential Complications
Who Needs a Life Care Plan?
- Personal injury and medical malpractice clients
- Birth injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries
- Major burns
- Multiple trauma
- Estate planning clients
- Seniors with chronic illness or dementia
- Clients with dependent children with health problems
- Developmental disabilities
- Mental illness
- Physical disabilities
- Clients with chronic illnesses
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy