A caregiver assists a young man attempting to stand up from his wheelchair

Life Care Planning

Life care planning is all about finding the right lifetime care, and determining the costs, for a chronically disabled patient. Each life care plan is very different to suit the needs of the patient; No two injuries or illnesses are the same, therefore no two programs are ever the same either.

Locations Served: The entire United States and its territories as well as the Caribbean

What Is Life Care Planning?

Life care planning is a proposal set in place for how to care for an individual with a lifelong disability from the moment of their disability. The first collaborated definition of the life care plan is as follows:

A dynamic 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.

Life care plans apply to those who suffer from chronic illness or catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, amputees and/or burns.

Life care planning services include medical care for catastrophic cases and any potential complications thereafter. They take into account all chronic health care needs and all associated costs, present and future.

The History of Life Care Planning

Life care planning found its start in 1976 when Dr. Paul Deutsch began working out the basics of life care planning. He founded the core tenet, methodologies, and principles. Throughout the 1980s, life care planning terminologies and definitions began to appear in medical and legal writings.

The 90s saw even more advancement in life care planning, including the establishment of the Certified Life Care Planner (CLCP) certification exam by the Commission on Disability Examiner Certification (CDEC). The CDEC is now known as the Commission on Health Care Certification (CHCC) or International Commission on Health Care Certification (ICHCC).

The late 90s also saw the first collaborated definition of the life care plan and the first edition of the Life Care Planning and Case Management Handbook.

During the 2000s, the Journal of Life Care Planning and the Foundation of Life Care Planning Research originated. There was also a second and third edition of the Life Care Planning and Case Management Handbook.

Responsibilities and Duties of a Life Care Planner

The life care planner is the one who comes up with the life care plan. Their duties include everything from the initial assessment to the final delivery of the plan.Sometimes however this involves multiple life care planners working together.

A certified life care planner is responsible for performing a comprehensive assessment of a patient through a review of their records and independent medical exams. This step is in place to determine the type of disability and future needs a patient has. After the assessment and further research, the life care planner compiles a plan for medical care, rehabilitation, occupational therapists that may be needed, and the associated costs for future care.

The life care planner must find the appropriate health care methods for a given personal injury. The life care planner is responsible for refining care coordination under clinical practice guidelines, such as elder law.

An RCC team member performing an assessment

Life Care Planning FAQs


What’s included in a life care plan?


Life care plans vary by the needs of a patient, but a life care plan may include any of the following:

  • Any medical professional that may be required including registered nurses, nurse practitioners, rehabilitation professionals, rehabilitation counselors, elder care coordinators, vocational experts, geriatric care managers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, dentists, and optometrists.
  • Any physical assistance device
  • Any medication
  • Any transportation for appointments
  • Any home or vehicle maintenance or modifications
  • Any vocational retraining
  • The life expectancy of the patient
  • All associated costs with any of the above mentioned


What’s the purpose of a life care plan?


A life care plan can help to identify all present and future costs of medical and special needs care for an individual with a traumatic injury or a chronic disability. This assessment can be used by the family and health care providers, as well as by insurers and courts to issue settlements.


How much does life care planning cost on average?


There are two principal costs associated with life care planning: the fees for the life care planning process and the expected total cost listed in the plan. The charge to have a life plan prepared can run anywhere from $5,000-$30,000, depending on the plan, the injury, the age and if such a plan is used at arbitration, mediation or trial. The expected expense noted in the program for a lifetime of medical care can vary more widely.

Remember, when planning for years of costs, experienced life care planners have to account for inflation and possible cost changes to the medical industry. There is also the matter of where medical services are procured. Specific locations and services have vastly different prices.

Additionally, some aspects of the care plan are open to change based on the patient’s and care provider’s preferences. With all this in mind, it is pretty challenging to present an estimate of the total cost listed on a life plan; each case differs so considerably.


What is the methodology behind life care planning?


Life care plans follow a set methodology for each case to ensure that said plan covers every aspect thoroughly and correctly. Most planners follow these same steps:

  1. 1. Reviews all records and documents relating to the case
  2. 2. Talk to and assess the patient, as well as interview close friends and family who knew the patient pre and post-injury
  3. 3. Interview the medical team to gain any remaining information
  4. 4. Research and start to make the plan, creating clinical practice guidelines, recommendations, and costs
  5. 5. Source relevant studies to support the medical foundation and case management
  6. 6. Reach out to medical experts and specialists if necessary


How do life care planners account for future technologies?


There is no way to precisely predict any future technologies that may come into play further down the line. However, life care planners do a lot of research when creating plans, including comparing how plans from previous decades have changed and accounted for future innovations.

A life care planner may have research to support the need to set aside funds for a potential future treatment based on relevant research. They cannot base the plan on “what ifs.” A life care planner will address the possibility of future care options but not rely on them.

Testimonials for Life Care Planning

A young woman comforts her mother
RCC is very dependable. So, If I call and need to speak with someone its not a gap in time where I am waiting and wondering why nobody got back to me. The same thing goes for a patient and my clients are so appreciative for what RCC is doing for them and helping them through a tough time. That’s what makes the relationship so special.
— George Kindley, Esq. The Kindley Firm
Image of RCC CEO, Doreen Casuto

The success of any treatment option depends on effective communication and consistent follow-through. That’s why Rehabilitation Care Coordination provides unique care coordination services to aide patients in need.