A care plan is a document that outlines a patient’s or client’s care needs and how to meet them. It’s usually prepared in nursing and elderly care homes. It can also be prepared by a doctor or a care professional looking after an elderly patient at home.
If you are responsible for looking after an elderly person, a care plan is essential. Without it, you won’t be able to provide the best care and it could even lead to injuries or deteriorating mental and physical health for the patient.
Preparing a care plan
Unlike years ago when care plans focused mostly on health needs, today’s care plans encompass all aspects of a person’s life. They are geared towards total wellness, both mental and physical.
You care plan should not only be about making the person safe and healthy; it should also be about keeping them happy and positive.
There are three main parts of a care plan: the problems or needs of the person, short term and long term goals and plan of action.
1. Identifying problems and needs
This is the first step in writing a care plan. Carry out an assessment of the person and determine which problems they are facing within their environment and day to day life. Also identify their needs regarding mobility, nutrition, medication and so on.
You may need to observe them for a few days to get a good idea of which needs and problems you’ll need to tackle.
Let’s say for example you are looking after Bill. Perhaps he has problems walking over long distances and needs to frequently get some rest.
Maybe he is also experiencing the beginnings of dementia and finds it hard to remember some essential things like where the toilet is or his family.
He could also be experiencing loneliness because there is no one around to socialize with.
Once you have identified the needs and problems, move on to the next step of setting out short term and long term goals.
2. Setting goals
Caring for an elderly person is both about meeting their day to day needs and planning for their long term wellness.
It’s important that you take into account both viewpoints when setting your goals.
First, you should have short term goals that mostly involve solving their day to day problems.
Bill, for instance, will need some help moving around especially when he wants to walk around the neighbourhood or to the store.
He’ll also need assistance remembering essential things like taking medication and recognizing people around him.
Secondly, you should have long term goals that involve their general wellness.
For example, Bill will need some help making new friends over time and getting involved in more social activities.
You’ll also need to develop more hobbies and activities that don’t involve as much walking.
Note: On certain goals like hobbies and making friends, it’s important that you consult the individual. Don’t make decisions for them assuming they will go along. Ask them what they want and whether they are willing to work towards a certain objective.
3. Plan of action
You have identified the problems and needs and you have set out your care goals. Now you need to figure out how you’ll achieve those goals. This includes determining which tools and technology you’ll need.
Start with the day to day essentials. How are you going to make their day to day life safer, healthier and more comfortable?
For Bill that would involve some help with mobility. Rollators would come in handy during his daily walks. He’ll find it easier to walk further and can rest on the attached padded seat when he gets tired.
You may also need something like an alarm clock to remind him to take medication especially if you are not looking after them round the clock.
Bill also needs to start meeting other people more. Perhaps at the local elderly centre or the park. Social activities would also help a lot.
Consult a professional: Care plan examples for elderly
I recommend consulting the medical professional working with the elderly patient for advice on how to create an effective care plan. It can be a doctor, physical therapist or an elderly care professional.
Once you create a good care plan, review it frequently to check whether it needs any changes. It should be updated at least once a year unless a major change in their health or living condition necessitates an update sooner than that.