*This blog is just a guide. It is not intended to replace professional advice or support. If you feel you are at risk please contact your local health service or social services department.*
A care plan is a document usually created by social workers to communicate your needs to other professionals. They’re now standard practice. Widely used in both the health and social care sectors. Care plans are brilliant when written in conjunction with the service user. All three of mine so far, have not. When this happens, they’re often only of use to the person who wrote it, and not any other professionals. Not to mention, any family and friends who help out with your case. Even worse, care plans written without consultation have even misrepresented those they are meant to support. I needed mine to represent me to people that actually work with me. Not to just work for one person who doesn’t deal with my day-to-day care. So, I decided that the best thing was to write my own…
First Things First, What Is A Care Plan?
Its a document often written by social workers/health professionals to aid those involved in your care. They should present each person as an individual. Not just another number on a paper. They should detail what social or health care you require to help with an ongoing condition or rehabilitation. They should only contain information you want to share with other professionals. It should also include a quick risk assessment – for both you and anyone who works with you. Its also a place to record actions taken or information which needs to be passed onto others who work with you.
When Is a Care Plan Used?
Care plans are often used after care act assessments (social services assessments for care provision). I think they’re a really important to have in place regardless of having had a care act assessment or not. Writing it yourself puts you back in charge of your care. For me, it’s an exercise of taking back agency – your ability to chose how you live your life. Needing assistance with your care needs can feel like choice is taken away from you, but it doesn’t need to be. It was really important for me to make sure I take back that choice when and wherever I can!
Whats The Issue With Many Care Plans?
Care plans are often written after an care act assessment. It should look at all aspects covered by the act – your life and your care needs. With over-stretched services, often only the basics are covered. Looking back at my plans, they don’t say anything much about me as a person, just as a case number. But only covering the basics means these plans are often full of inconsistencies. They look at what you can’t do, and often forget about what you can do – on your own or aided in some way. They don’t paint a full picture of who you are and what your needs truly are. That’s why I’ve now felt the need to make my own.
When my new PA starts, if I happen to be having a bad day, there will be not a chance in hell of me struggling to explain what I need them to do. The way I have written my new care plan, it explains things in a friendly, easy to understand manner. So if I need family/friends/agency PA to muck in they know what they’re doing without twenty questions.
Who Needs One?
Anyone that has multiple health or care professionals involved in their care, or those who have social care needs – mental or physical. Care plans are often written by a professional during assessment for eligible needs. Even if you don’t have eligible needs for funded support, it’s helpful to have a plan for your care. It makes it easier for everyone involved to be on the same page about what your goals are and how to best support you in achieving them.
What Should It Cover?
- Why you need this care? This might be detailing what your conditions are and how they affect you.
- What do you hope this care will enable you to do? Write down what your aims and goals are (but make them realistic and specific – such as doing daily physio, or maintaining current health levels)
- How do you need the care to be performed? Do you need reminding or physical help with taking medication? List the tasks you need to someone to do
- Who is responsible for which areas of care? This is particularly important when you have numerous people coming in and doing different tasks.
- Where and when will the care be done? This allows you the option to personalise your care. If you need help getting ready for bed that needs to happen when works for you. But if times or places change, (such as staying at a friends on weekends), this needs also needs to be highlighted.
- Any further needs not yet included – these could be relating to being a parent, your race, culture, socio-economic disadvantage, gender, age, religion/spirituality, disability or sexuality. These are important and valid needs. If you need to be able to go to your aunties on a Thursday evening every other week for braiding, that’s a very valid cultural need! As is visiting your place of worship, performing acts of spiritual practice, going to LGBT groups, parent and child groups, youth clubs, or support groups for your condition. If you’re a woman – don’t forget about what you may need to support looking after menstrual needs.
What About The Tasks Required?
What I haven’t yet written is what care you actually need. It can be difficult to see your own needs. Its often helpful to write “I need…” statements. For example, I need to be able to get dressed/see my friends/eat health food. Once your needs are identified, it’s much easier to figure out how to meet those needs. Make sure you cover all bases:
I’ve written some prompts in these areas in the downloadable template which is at the bottom of this blog!
It’s also really important to plan for potential crises. Your carer becoming unwell, having a mental health crisis, or getting hospitalised might be possibilities you want to cover. You need to plan for each eventuality separately. But remember you can’t plan for every eventuality…just think about the most possible – Zombie apocalypse needn’t be on your list!
Its also important to reduce risks, both to yourself and others. If you employ your own PA then you are responsible for doing assessing any potential risks to their health and safety. These risks will be different. For you, it might be a list of your allergies, falls risk, missing medication, and any triggers which make your condition worse. Pay particular attention to this section if you also have a mental health condition. Prevention of a crisis is always better than dealing with the fallout! For your PA or carer, it might list whether you have pets, wet floors, trip hazards, any open wounds or sores you may have, or any challenging behaviour you might display when triggered/stressed/etc and how to deal with it. This section may require some additional assistance. An independent living advisor may be able to help with this.
A care plan should work for everyone involved, but most of all, you! It needs to get across who you are and what you need. Once you’ve finished writing your care plan, make sure you share it around.This isn’t a cast-in-stone document. Change it as and when you feel. The best option is always to work with a social worker on one, but I am more than aware that in reality, that just isn’t always possible. What is possible is taking back some choice about how you are cared for!