What is a Life Care Plan?

Written by Jane Burns

Director – Lighthouse Health Group

A Life Care Plan is a comprehensive medico-legal report which addresses all aspects of a person’s future services and care.

Who is qualified to prepare a Life Care Plan?

International Certification in the field of Nurse Life Care Planning is available in the United States. There are currently three (3) Nurse Life Care Planners in Australia that have undertaken training and certification. Continuing education and recertification are required every five (5) years.

If you have commissioned a Life Care Plan prepared by someone who is not certified as a specialist in this field, then it is questionable that this plan is comprehensive and defendable in court as a true “Life Care Plan”.

Nurses are exceptionally well qualified to develop Life Care Plans due to their ability to make comprehensive assessments using a holistic framework, formulate nursing diagnosis, identify goals, plan strategies and implement and evaluate outcomes. In addition, Rehabilitation Nurses are uniquely qualified to develop Life Care Plans due to their experience in writing rehabilitation plans, their unique interactions with a client, their ability to prescribe and accurately cost care and their ability to collaborate in a team environment and plan for the individual in a community setting.

Predicting future nursing care prescriptions and providing accurate costs which outline recommendations for the qualifications of staff (RN, EN or unlicensed care staff) needed, requires knowledge of local industrial relations legislation and relevant awards and the delegation of clinical nursing tasks can only be undertaken by a Registered Nurse. This gives the Nurse Life Care Planner an advantage when it comes to accurately predicting future care costs, which usually forms the largest part of any claim.

When do I need a Life Care Plan?

A Life Care Plan can be formulated to assist in calculating damages for any person who has sustained a catastrophic injury or a birth injury. In particular it is very useful for a paediatric claim as growth and development must be considered in the context of the child’s lifespan and over different developmental stages. A paediatric Life Care Plan can have up to four (4) life stages of recommendations and associated costs.

Common sorts of claims assessed by the Life Care Planner are:

  • Burns
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Disability requiring permanent ventilation
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Congenital Birth defects or medical negligence claims

When choosing a Life care Planner, it is important to find out what experience they have in the particular area of disability that you require. Ask for their CV and a list of completed plans that they have prepared.

How can I find out more?

For more information about the Life Care Planning Process and its potential applications in health care, community health and the legal setting, contact the author. For information about the International Certification process and educational requirements visit the American Association of Nurse Life Care Planners website at http://www.aanlcp.org/.

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