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"The life care plan is a changeable 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 Academy of Life Care Planners, 2003. Established during the 2000 Life Care Planning Summit ).

Life care planning is a consistent process for evaluating the patient and disability in order to establish all of the needs dictated by the onset of that disability. Careful consideration is given to the goals, needs and interest of the patient, the needs of the family and the realities of the geographic region in which the patient resides. It takes into consideration the medical records, the patient and family perspective, the treatment team, the clinical practice guidelines, relevant research literature and the carefully established medical, case management and rehabilitation foundation.

A life care plan is a tool of case management and can be used in consultation with patients, families, rehabilitation professionals, and catastrophic case managers. The life care plan specifies the long-term medical, psychological, and rehabilitation needs of an individual throughout his/her lifetime. It has application in the non-judicial as well as judicial arena. It is utilized as a preventative plan for disability management outside the judicial setting. Within the judicial and insurance settings it is used to establish an accurate profile of the long term needs, recommendations and costs associated with the onset of the particular disability involved.

Yes, In addition to achieving certification in their primary disciplines, many professionals choose to pursue board certification in life care planning (CLCP) which is granted by the Commission on Health Care Certification. With its foundation in rehabilitation, life care planning attracts board certified professionals from diverse fields of practice, including rehabilitation counseling, rehabilitation nursing, rehabilitation psychology, physiatry, case management, and other areas.

Courts have sought the specialized knowledge of life care planners so that they, and juries, are better able to understand the long-term effects of catastrophic injuries and the associated economic damages of such cases. It is important to understand that when choosing a life care planner certain factors may override all others in making a decision. Does the life care plan represent a document which answers questions rather then raise them? Is it clear, understandable, well documented and well presented? All of which can make or break a case.

A life care planner does not attempt to “predict” future events, but bases the plan upon all of the steps outlined in industry best practices. This includes but is not limited to review of the medical records, recommendations from members of the individual’s current treatment team, clinical practice guidelines, and evidence-based research relative to the individual’s disability and level of function. In addition, an extensive review of the medical records and clinical interview allow the planner to appreciate the individual’s medical and rehabilitation history while understanding current needs. Recommendations within the life care plan must have a basis in known medical, case management and rehabilitation outcomes as documented within the research literature.