Developing Effective Life Care Plans | A Comprehensive Guide by ICLCP

life care planning
Life Care Planner Expert
Welcome to Intercoastal Consulting & Life Care Planning (ICLCP), your trusted partner in developing customized and objecitve life care plans for those facing chronic or catastrophic health challenges, along with a clear breakdown of associated costs. Grasping the complexities involved in formulating a life care plan is vital for patients, their families, and medical professionals. This detailed guide will walk you through the crucial phases and factors in creating a life care plan that meets the comprehensive needs of the injured individual.

What is a Life Care Plan?

For nearly a quarter of a century, the industry-accepted definition of a life care plan is as follows: it’s a dynamic document rooted in established practice standards, thorough assessments, data analysis, and research. This document meticulously outlines both present and future needs, along with their associated costs, for individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries or face ongoing health care needs. This definition merges insights from the University of Florida, the annual Intelicus life care planning conference, and the American Academy of Nurse Life Care Planners (now the International Academy of Life Care Planners), and was ratified at the NARPPS annual conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on April 3, 1998. A life care plan is often utilized when someone is injured following an automobile accident or injury that requires future care and costs need to be identified.

The ICLCP Approach to Life Care Planning

At Intercoastal Consulting & Life Care Planning (ICLCP), we follow standards or practice and industry accepted methodology to develop our life care plans that are comprehensive and based on the individual needs. Our Step-by-Step Procedure for Life Care Planning encapsulates a comprehensive methodology that aligns closely with the formal definition of life care planning and is commonly utilized which includes:
  • Gathering initial case information.
  • Collecting medical records.
  • Obtaining additional supportive documents.
  • Coordinating the initial interview.
  • Preparing materials for the initial interview.
  • Consulting with members of the treating health care providers (Therapeutic Team).
  • Developing life care planning options.
  • Addressing any gaps in the plan.
  • Determining costs and/or identifying resources.
  • Completing the life care plan.
  • Distributing the finalized plan.
Similarly to the scientific method, the life care planning process, informed by the field’s standards, can be streamlined into a five-phase methodological approach with an integrated feedback mechanism, as outlined in their framework. Here’s how we do it:

1. Assessment (Determine Purpose)

Initiating our process, we establish the life care plan’s purpose, which serves as the driving force behind all case-related activities. Once determined, we begin with understanding the full scope of the individual’s needs is critical for developing an effective plan.

2. Review Evidence, Evaluate and Conceptualize Case

In the phase of reviewing secondary data and conceptualizing the case, the life care planner examines all provided secondary data to form a comprehensive understanding of the case. This can involve reviewing secondary data sources which may consist of extensive records from medical, legal, educational, and vocational sources, among others. These documents, which may include unanalyzed or uninterpreted data like imaging results, medication lists, vital records, and even physical artifacts such as photographs from the incident scene or of the client in treatment and durable medical equipment, serve as a foundation for case conceptualization. This phase, aligned with the Medical Records and Supporting Documentation steps of Weed and Grisham’s process, is fundamental in grounding the case through a thorough review of secondary data. Upon completing this phase, the life care planner leverages their education, training, experience, and skills to form a conceptual understanding of the individual. This understanding prompts further inquiries and actions that transition into the subsequent phases of the methodology and arranging and preparing for the initial interview.

3. Collecting Data (Primary)

Life care planners focus on gathering primary data, a key element in the comprehensive assessment of a life care plan. Unlike secondary evidence, which is created by others and reviewed by the planner, primary data is obtained through direct interactions such as interviews with the evaluee, family members, and the treatment team, as well as observations and participation in activities with the evaluee. This hands-on approach, including participant-observation, helps the planner understand the evaluee’s abilities and needs by engaging in tasks alongside them. This phase aligns with the step of Consulting with Therapeutic Team. It’s important to note that Phases 2 and 3 are not strictly linear; they are cyclical. After initial meetings, the planner may discover the need for additional records or information, necessitating a return to earlier phases. This iterative process ensures a thorough collection and analysis of both secondary and primary data. With a comprehensive understanding of the individual’s needs, we begin to develop the life care plan. We also consider the individual’s personal goals and preferences to ensure that the plan supports them and their desired quality of life goals.

4. Research and Data/Cost Analysis

Given its complexity and scope, this phase is often the most time-consuming in the life care planning process and has been the subject of extensive discussion, evidenced by the development of checklists, specialized summits (such as those focusing on costing), and numerous research or opinion pieces. It corresponds to steps 7 through 9 noted above—Preparing Life Care Planning Options, Filling in the Holes, and Researching Costs and Sources. This stage also ties into the research and data analysis segment of the life care plan definition, as well as steps 3 through 5 of the IALCP Standards of Practice, which cover Analysis and Synthesis to Identify Functioning, Disability, and Health; Future Care Recommendations; and Cost Delineation. Additionally, it aligns with the AANLCP®’s Outcomes Identification and Planning.

5. Report (Written/Findings)

In life care planning, producing written reports is a standard practice, encapsulating the final stages of the process (Finalizing the Life Care Plan and Distributing the Life Care Plan) and also aligns with IALCP Standards of Practice (2022). It involves generating a detailed, cost-inclusive plan, ensuring its internal consistency and validity, and disseminating the findings to relevant parties. The style and content of the life care plan report are tailored to the individual life care planner, integrating elements from the initial four phases.

6. Re-evaluation (As appropriate)

Central to life care planning is the principle of dynamism, acknowledging the continual changes in human conditions and circumstances. Accordingly, the life care plan must be adaptable, open to modifications as the individual’s needs or environmental factors evolve. Revising the plan over time is not an indication of its initial inadequacy; rather, it recognizes the necessity for updates in response to changes in the individual’s access to care, health status, or service environment. This phase ensures the plan remains relevant and accurate, maintaining a consistent standard for the inclusion of items, which is based on the “more likely than not” criterion during each evaluation period. Developing an effective life care plan is a complex but crucial process for ensuring that individuals with long-term health conditions receive the care and support they need to live fulfilling lives. At Intercoastal Consulting & Life Care Planning (ICLCP), we are dedicated to creating personalized, evidence-based life care plans that address the unique needs of each client. With our expertise and objective approach, we help determine costs that help individuals and families to navigate their healthcare journeys with confidence and dignity throughout their life expectancy following injury. Source:
1. Rutherford-Owen, T., Barros-Bailey, M., & Weed, R. O. (Eds.). (2023). Life Care Planning and Case Management Across the Lifespan (5th ed.). Routledge.

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