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What Is A Care Plan?

January 31st, 2023

When you’re researching care homes and other options for a loved one, it’s likely that you’ll come across the term ‘care plan’. If you’re new to the world of adult social care or residential care, you might not have heard the term before and be wondering ‘what is a care plan’ and ‘why are care plans important’?. With this in mind, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about care planning, and how they’re used in care homes to support older people’s health and wellbeing.

What Is A Care Plan?

A care plan is a document that details a person’s health conditions, specific healthcare needs and any current treatment. It’s created following a process of care planning, which is used to understand an individual’s health, wellbeing, and care needs. Collating all of the information gained during care planning helps to form a care plan to ensure all of these needs are addressed. A care plan is essential regardless of whether someone is accessing residential care or nursing care, or looking for a home carer. A care plan for elderly people may take place in the community, for people receiving nursing care, or for those moving into a care home. 

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Care planning may recognise that an individual needs to move into a care home, but the care plan will also influence how they’re cared for once they’ve moved in. A care plan for elderly people accessing care services is an essential document that should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure the individual continues to receive the best standards of care for their evolving needs

Why Are Care Plans Important?

The purpose of care planning is to make sure that all of the healthcare professionals an individual comes into contact with – whether that’s community carers, nurses, or care home staff – are aware of their specific needs and the agreed approach for meeting these. The importance of a care plan lies in its many benefits for both the person receiving care and the carers themselves. The benefits of care plans for the elderly include:

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Defined GoalsPlanning for care includes setting clear objectives so that everyone involved in the care provision has a measurable target to work towards. This results in better outcomes as everyone is working towards the same end result, whether that’s rehabilitation or increased comfort.

Consistency Of Care –  A care plan ensures that the individual themselves, their next of kin, and healthcare staff are agreed on the best course of action to take to make sure their needs are met. As a result, the care delivered is consistent and the person receiving care knows what to expect at all times.

Safety – A care plan for elderly people ensures that risks are managed appropriately and that safety is a priority for both the patient or resident and any care professionals. 

Person-Centred Care – The importance of a care plan is especially high in order to deliver individualised care. Everyone has different care needs and creating a care plan tailored to an individual means that person will receive the very best care specific to their needs.

The individual concerned should always be involved in their own care planning, and if they’re not in a position to be able to, an appointed person or authority should have been given this responsibility as part of a power of attorney agreement.

Types Of Care Plans 

As there are different types of care available depending on an individual’s circumstances, there are naturally different types of care plans. These are some of the types of care plans for the elderly you can expect to find in a care home setting:

Nursing Care Plan

A nursing care plan contains information and guidance about a person’s health condition and the medication, equipment and adaptations they require. Their support needs will be documented so that carers can administer the correct comfort measures, educate the patient and their family, and coordinate with other healthcare professionals. Nursing care plans will be regularly evaluated and updated so that all needs are met, and any change in staff does not affect continuity of care.

Dementia Care Plan

Dementia care plans for elderly people are often very personalised and provide information to carers about who the person actually is and what they enjoy or don’t like. These types of care plans help carers to understand the individual living with dementia better, so that they can offer tailored care and support. The importance of a care plan for dementia is to help support staff to communicate with patients so they can be a voice for them and improve their wellbeing as much as possible. As with other care plans, medication, treatment options and safety concerns will also be addressed.

Respite Care Plan

Respite care is a temporary care service that gives carers, including those looking after an elderly parent, a short break. A respite care plan will naturally include medical information, details about daily routines and emergency contacts. It is essentially the same as a standard care plan but is only for the duration of the stay in a care home and so will not need to be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Creating A Care Plan

There should be five main components to any care plan: 

  • Assessment: the first stage of a care plan is assessing the individual’s needs, which may take the form of an informal chat, a questionnaire, or even an observation
  • Diagnosis: a healthcare coordinator or care home staff member will use the information gathered to determine what the individual’s needs are when care planning
  • Care planning: once needs have been identified, a care plan can be drawn up
  • Implementation: any recommended changes should be implemented, and lived with for an agreed period so that their effects can be measured
  • Review: once the individual has lived with the changes recommended in their care plan for the agreed period, it should be evaluated and tweaked as necessary – a care plan should be an evolving document that develops as the individual’s needs change

Some people will also be eligible for what’s known as a care and support plan, which is designed to ensure they are able to live independently while receiving support from a day centre or community carers.

What Does A Care Plan Include?

A comprehensive care plan should cover absolutely everything to do with an individual’s care needs, from their ability to perform day-to-day tasks to the medication they take. Every single care plan will differ depending on the person’s needs, but below is an example of some of the areas that may be covered:

  • Personal details such as a photo to identify the resident, the type of care they are accessing in the care home and even payment details to cover the cost of care
  • Details on ability to wash, dress, and complete other everyday tasks for themselves
  • Medications being taken – including how often they need to be taken, and whether they require any support with administering them
  • What’s most important to the patient – knowing what makes them happy is key to building relationships between healthcare professionals or care home staff and the individual concerned
  • Necessary adaptations required to their home or care home bedroom to help them maintain their independence
  • Details of close/emergency contacts
  • Information about end-of-life care if the patient requires palliative care
  • Records of the care that has been administered and the outcomes

A care plan may determine that moving into a care home is necessary; from there, the care plan will be used to tailor support from staff to the needs in question. 

Why Should Care Plans Be Updated Regularly?

A care plan can be updated as often as is necessary. This is often the case for care plans for elderly people, or those living with dementia, whose needs might change regularly. For example, eating habits may become more challenging or a resident may recover well from an earlier ailment and need their medication amending. The importance of a care plan relies on how accurate and up to date it is. If the information is incorrect, the person will not get the support they need, and so care planning must be assessed and improved continuously to remain effective.

What Is A Care Plan In A Care Home?

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A care plan in a care home is a document or agreement that lays out a resident’s individual care needs and how these will be met by care home staff. For example, this may include:

  • Any adaptations required in their room
  • What medication they need to take and when
  • Their level of independence in carrying out daily tasks such as washing and dressing
  • Any dietary needs that may affect their health
  • A resident’s independence, happiness, and wellbeing will always be at the centre of any care home care plan. Every care plan overseen by a care home will be completely unique and tailored to each resident’s individual needs

Care plans should be reviewed regularly in line with residents’ changing needs; they may lose their ability to dress themselves or require help bathing, for instance. Their initial care home care plan should be used as a foundation for meeting their needs when they’re coming into residential, nursing, respite, or dementia care for the first time, but it should evolve and change over time too.

How New Care Uses A Resident’s Care Plan

At New Care, we work with any new residents and their loved ones to devise a care plan in line with their specific needs at the time, which will always have their wellbeing and safety at its centre. If a resident is coming to us with an existing care plan, we’ll always look at how we can enhance this, while ensuring there’s as little disruption for the resident as possible.

For example, a resident with a care plan that’s been created to manage a recent dementia diagnosis will benefit from the dementia-friendly interiors and features of our care homes, which include subtle signage, allowing them to keep more of their independence for as long as possible. We also use information about our residents’ favourite hobbies and pastimes to help us know which activities they might most enjoy so we can encourage them to join in. 

If you have any questions about care planning, our care homes or any of the care services that we offer, please don’t hesitate to contact us.