What is a Certified Life Care Planner? Do I Need One for My Case?

Issue January/February 2020 February 2020 By Sarah Malloy, CLCP, CCM, OTR/L
Civil Litigation Section Review
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Sarah Malloy

Do you need to identify future medical and non-medical needs and costs of an individual? Then you need a life care planner. Life care planners are called upon by the referring attorney to evaluate a person’s current and future medical and other needs given that person’s physical, mental or cognitive condition. Cases where life care planners are used include personal injury, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation and family law.

Based upon life care planning standards of practice and empirically based methodology developed by the International Academy of Life Care Planners, published in 2015 by the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals, the expert typically performs the following tasks:

  • Reviews and completes a medical summary of all available medical, therapy and related records;

  • Completes a home evaluation of the individual;

  • Outlines future probable medical and non-medical care needs, along with their costs and associated vendors, and identifies possible complications;

  • Provides scientific, evidenced-based support for the life care plan projections; and

  • Functions as an expert witness, if needed.

The life care planner’s findings are outlined in a detailed narrative report with a spreadsheet of items and associated costs that is typically identified as the tables of the life care plan (LCP). According to Everett G. Dillman (2019) in “The Role of the Economist in Life Care Planning,” published in Life Care Planning and Case Management, Fourth Edition, the LCP should only include relevant marginal costs to the injury that occurred or conditions that the injury exacerbated. It should not include costs due to comorbid or unrelated conditions. Depending on the state or the approach of the retaining party, the LCP costs could be projected to present value by a forensic economist or accountant over the plaintiff’s life expectancy and contain appropriate offsets.

Clinically, the LCP becomes a “road map” or rehabilitation or intervention plan for the individual affected and his or her family, and also assists attorneys in determining the value of future care. LCPs aid the attorney when entering into negotiations with the opposing counsel by providing a detailed, scientifically supported document based upon methodologically gathered data.

To ensure that the expert has met the minimum qualifications to be admitted in your case, consider retaining a Certified Life Care Planner (CLCP). CLCPs are health care professionals from a variety of backgrounds, including occupational therapists, physical therapists, rehabilitation counselors and nurses. These professionals have a minimum requirement of three years of field experience in their respective designations, although the majority of them far exceed that minimum. They receive a minimum of 120 postgraduate hours of training at a recognized training program. Among other requirements, they develop a life care plan that is peer-reviewed. Upon completing the training program, CLCPs must pass a standardized board certification exam administered by the International Commission on Health Care Certification (ICHCC).

Adherence to professional, ethical and practice standards is a pivotal part of credentialing. CLCPs are held to professional and ethical standard by the ICHCC and its governing board for the duration of their certifications. Passing the exam that demonstrates a minimum level of competency is insufficient. Certificants must also demonstrate that they obtain and retain knowledge in contemporary and emerging areas of practice. Therefore, maintenance of the certification is required with 80 hours of continuing education credits every five years. In addition to the CLCP certification, these health care professionals also maintain certifications/licensures related to their respective disciplines. Many of these individuals maintain additional certifications.

Another job of the CLCP is to perform a peer review and work product critique of the LCP of an opposing life care planner. Given the importance of outlining all appropriate needs of the individual, a CLCP’s role in this situation is to ensure that the opposing life care planner and LCP follow the acceptable standards of practice and established methodology, within the life care planner’s scope of practices. In this situation, the role of the LCP is based on findings and conclusions from evidence s/he collects, within the available records specific to the individual, and grounded upon the treatment practice guidelines and literature.

The CLCP, possessing the necessary credentials and professional background, provides the attorney with a thoroughly researched, clear, concise and detailed report outlining future care needs and associated costs. A CLCP can then function as a qualified expert witness by testifying to what is outlined in the report and supporting its efficacy. The CLCP is a credentialed asset to any case requiring identification of future medical and non-medical care needs and associated costs.

Sarah Malloy, CLCP, CCM, OTR/L, is the owner of Malloy Life Care Planning. She
holds national certifications as a Certified Life Care Planner and Certified Case
Manager, and is a registered and licensed occupational therapist with more than two decades of experience working with adults in the rehabilitation field.