Life Care Planning

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What is a Life Care Plan?

A Life Care Plan is a holistic approach to project future costs of medical goods and services through identification of the needs of a catastrophically injured or ill patient.

Recommendations are provided by the treating physicians regarding the medical equipment, services, and treatment required by the patient to promote good health and encourage independence. The effects of aging and impairment are taken into consideration as well as the support system in place. Care is taken to assure a plan is in place to address alternative care issues in the case of a loss or limitation of the support system.

The Life Care Plan is also a document which can be used to implement proactive medical treatment for the prevention of complications and further disability. A personal interview with the patient, if possible, and significant others is performed to provide information regarding past medical, social, educational, and family history. This information is organized and presented in written format to educate those involved with the patient in planning to meet future needs. A vocational assessment may be specially requested to address the loss of earning capacity and vocational rehabilitation needs.

Purpose of a Life Care Plan

The Life Care Plan is prepared to document the projected cost of future medical care and services for insurance companies for setting reserves and proactive case management to contain costs. Litigation of a catastrophic injury case may require cost projection for settlement. Increasingly, life care plans are being used for impaired or elderly dependants to assure appropriate funding for quality care in the absence of close family. Equally as important to the preparation of the plan is the implememtation by a knowledgeable case manager.

The plan is a dynamic document which can be updated and revised as the individual progresses through acute to long-term rehabilitation. This framework of services will address comprehensive medical needs for the patient, counseling for immediate family, and non-medical issues such as home modification and vehicle adaptation.

The life care planner must understand the medical aspects of the complexity of the disability and possible complications. The value of a life care plan can be demonstrated by the increased communication, cooperation and coordination of services that are essential to the successful outcome of the case. The Life Care Plan is the core of catastrophic case management.

A consistent method of life care plan preparation is necessary, including standard procedures. Input from the patient and family, medical records, and health team recommendations are organized and associated costs are confirmed by providers in the patient\'s geographical area. The figures may be forwarded to an economist to project costs over the life expectancy of the patient in present-day value.