There is a growing demand for Life Care Planning or "Future Cost of Care Analysis" as we refer to it in Canada. A life care plan is defined as “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 needs" (International Academy of Life Care Planners, 2002, Standards of Practice. Journal of Life Care Planning.1 (1), 49-57) The cost of these documents varies based on geographic location and the experience of the Life Care Planner. In Canada you can anticipate costs on average to run anywhere from 20-60 hours of billable time for a catastrophic injury at anywhere from $90-150/hr. An even higher rate is typical for court appearances.
Life Care Plans are prepared by many disciplines including Nurses, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Kinesiologists, and more. There is now a certification for Life Care Planners, and companies are popping up everywhere dedicated to providing this service exclusively. Typically, these Life Care Plans are required for judicial/forensic use when determining compensatory damages and assisting the court in assessing the disability. They are also prepared for clinical use as a cost effective case management tool to help clients prevent future injuries, and they provide details how the plan can be implemented - a road map of the future for the individual and family. Insurance companies also request these Life Care Plans for making decisions regarding optimal allocations of resources for the client.
The Life Care Plan is usually required for individuals with catastrophic Injury (Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury, Amputation, Low Vision, Burns, Multiple Orthopedic Injuries, etc). When sourcing out professionals to conduct the Life Care Plan, ensure that the approach used by the Life Care Planner is neither Plaintiff Oriented or Defense Oriented, and instead is "Needs based" to ensure a fair and defendable product. All recommendations should maximize the individual's level of independence and ability to participate in society, and prevent functional deterioration and medical complications.
If you, or someone you know has filed a personal injury claim or if you are a case manager or lawyer who deals with catastrophic injury cases, knowing what you get from a Future Cost of Care Report or Life Care Plan is essential in ensuring that the best interests of the client are being addressed. If possible, hiring a Life Care Planner who resides in the same city as the client will save you money as they will have good knowledge of local resources for the client, looking down the road at rehabilitation, housing, personal care supports and more. These reports need to be defendable in court and you don't want to have the Life Care Planner questioned about availability and quality of resources in an unfamiliar community.
Choosing an occupational therapist who provides rehabilitation services to catastrophic injured clients will give you peace of mind, knowing they have the practical knowledge of physical and mental rehabilitative needs for these clients. Remember, the final product is not just a document, but you are also paying for the author to potentially appear in court, be professional, fair and be able to articulate well the defense of that document regardless of being on the plaintiff or defendant side of the courthouse.
Marnie Courage, OT Reg (MB)