What is a Care Plan In a Care Home? Why They're Important
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If you’ve been found as needing care and support after a care needs assessment takes place, you’ll get a care plan. This carefully lays out the help you can expect to receive and how this will be given.
We’ve also highlighted the importance of care and support plans, what they contain and different plan types.
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In this article on care plans:
- What is a care plan?
- Why are care plans important?
- Making a care plan
- Types of care plans
- Daily care plans
- Involving the person
- Care plan reviews
- How to complain if you aren’t happy
- How to check staff are following care plans
- Care plans in care homes
What is a Care Plan?
Care plans are created for individuals in care who need support; whether it’s simple assistance with day-to-day tasks and support taking medication, all the way to round-the-clock supervision and ongoing medical care.
It will clearly lay out the level of support a person needs, how the support will be given, what the aims and goals of the care are and any other necessary details.
Why are Care Plans Important?
Care plans are extremely important and every person receiving care - whether that’s through home care or in a care home - should have one.
Not only do they give the individual achievable goals, aims and structure for their care, but they also help promote independence in care, allowing them to retain as much control as possible over their life and continue to do the things they love and enjoy.
Another benefit of support plans is that they help the person’s family members and loved ones to better understand their care needs, health conditions and how they can offer additional support with day-to-day tasks.
The support planning process is essential to ensure that the care seeker consistently receives the right level of care and that their requirements and personal preferences are known by any staff in charge of their care. For example, a carer or personal assistant visiting your loved one at home should know their exact requirements.
Care plans are important in several other ways as well:
- They record conversations, decisions and agreed outcomes in an easy-to-understand way for the person receiving care
- They outline the description of a person, why their plan is achievable and effective, and what matters to them most within the plan
- They help to ensure care is coordinated and focused on a specific person’s health and wellbeing needs - person-centred care
Making a Care Plan
To get your care plan, you’ll need to get in touch with the social services department at your local council to arrange a care needs assessment.
A needs assessment will look at your unique care requirements and the level of support you need, as well as the type of care that would best suit you.
This will then be written up, which can take a couple of weeks. You should have a say in what goes into your it, so don’t be afraid to voice personal wishes for your own care, no matter how big or small.
You can also get a support plan if you are caring for someone else – you’ll have to do a separate assessment, known as a carer’s assessment, from your local authority.
What support should be included in a care plan?
As care plans are tailor-made for the individual, no two should be the same. However, there are some common things that tend to be included, such as:
- A photo of the resident for easy identification
- Goals and aspirations: What the care seeker wants to get out of their care
- The care seeker’s hobbies, likes, dislikes and preferences on meals and daily routine
- Who is paying for the care: The care seeker’s personal budget
- Payment details
- Details of key dates and life events (this is particularly important for care seekers with dementia)
- Medical history and details on how much independence the care seeker has
- Equipment, home adaptations, or specific medical care needed
- Details of continuity of care and emergency contacts
- Details of end of life care, if required (this is often offered in a palliative care home)
As well as medical history, details of medication and history of injuries and illness, a good care plan may also include information about the person’s history, employment history, family, culture and religion to give carers and staff a complete understanding of the person.
Types of Care Plans
Along with broader care and support plans, there are also more specific plans aimed at catering to people with often specialist care needs, including people who require nursing or dementia care. Below, we’ve explained how the different types may differ.
Nursing care plans
Nursing care plans are similar to general care plans, with the exception that they likely contain more specific information on medication, specific care needed for certain health conditions and equipment or adaptations someone might need in their home or care home.
Any changes to the resident’s health condition will be carefully noted in their health record and their support needs will be updated.
Ensuring plans are regularly updated will ensure that staff switching shifts are all on the same page and can pick up where the last carer left off to make sure nothing is missed. It also means that all care needs will be met.
Dementia care plans
Dementia residents will have a dementia care plan that includes a more personal account of who they are. These plans are written to help caregivers understand a resident on a more personal level, including things like their background and life story and the best ways to communicate with them.
The ultimate goal of a dementia care plan is for a carer to read it and be able to answer “who is this person?” and “what makes them tick?” In this way, the plan provides a voice for somebody when they’re often unable to provide it themselves.
Alzheimer’s care plans
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia. An Alzheimer’s care plan often focuses on meaningful activities that provide enjoyment and structure for residents.
An Alzheimer’s care plan will take into account:
- Your loved one’s likes, dislikes, strengths and interests
- How they used to structure their day
- The best times for meals, bathing and dressing
- Regular times for waking up and going to bed (this is particularly useful if your loved one with dementia experiences sundowning)
Daily Care Plans
Although care plans look at the long-term aspect of someone’s care, daily records are also important.
Daily records help care home staff stay on top of residents’ care, especially in a care home where there are multiple members of staff on different shifts.
Staff should use the information in a care plan to tailor their approach to each individual – whether that’s remembering which foods someone is allergic to, or knowing which residents would be interested in doing a singing class.
Care plans also ensure that staff and residents can work together to achieve the person’s care goals; for example, completing daily physio exercises to help the person maintain their mobility.
Most care homes will update care records daily to make sure staff have the right information at the right time, reducing the likelihood of accidents and keeping residents happy and well-cared for.
Involving the Person
The most important thing about care planning is that it should be created around the person in question.
If it’s your care plan, make sure your opinions are heard and that you have a clear understanding of what is going into your care.
If the care plan is for your relative or loved one, don’t leave them out of conversations about their care and involve them in every decision. Their wants and wishes should be prioritised to ensure they are healthy and happy at all times.
Even if the care seeker in question has dementia, mental health problems, a disability or the person lacks capacity they should still be included at every step of the way; from the first conversation about their care, to ongoing care plan reviews.
Facial expressions, body language, gestures and behaviours can be used to communicate if speech is not always possible. Communication is key and can make all the difference between someone being unhappy in care and someone having the best experience possible.
Care Plan Reviews
Care plans are flexible and can easily be updated or amended at any time. If your local council has arranged your care and support plan, they have a duty to review it and make changes or updates if needed.
The first time your care plan is reviewed should be within three months after it has first been made. After that, you should have a care plan review at least once a year – but this isn’t set in stone.
If you ever feel your plan is no longer supporting your needs, or you want to lodge a complaint, we've explained below.
How to Complain If You Aren't Happy
Your care plan should be reviewed regularly, giving you an opportunity to say what’s working and not working, and whether you want any changes to be made.
If you are unhappy with your care plan, you can get in touch with adult social services at your local council to request a review.
Most local councils have a formal complaints procedure in place that you can follow by going to their website. If this is unsuccessful, you can escalate your complaint to your local government and social care ombudsman.
Ask a family member or a friend to help you make your complaint if you cannot easily access the Internet or phone.
How to Check Staff are Following Care Plans
When you’re researching care homes, look for evidence that the staff clearly understand and use care plans. Staff should ask for residents’ preferences each time they provide care or support; for example, asking residents when they’d like their medication, asking what they’d like for dinner, or remembering that they have sugar in their tea.
If staff are friendly, respectful, informative and happy to talk to friends and family about their loved one’s care, this is another good sign.
Finally, if you can see evidence that the staff and care team are consistently reviewing residents’ plans, asking for feedback from all parties involved and taking steps to offer care plan reviews, it’s probably a great care home to live in!
Care Plans in Care Homes
When somebody moves into a care home, a plan for their care is essential in making sure they have all the support that’s needed to feel healthy and happy within the home.
Most care homes use a standard format for care planning, meaning new members of staff can quickly adapt and support your loved one.
In a care home, the best support plans will also inform and update family members so they can contribute to care planning. Having family involved from the get-go will make providing compassionate and personal care easier for staff. They’ll get a better understanding of likes and dislikes, lifestyle and skills.
Lottie matches care seekers with the best care homes for their needs. You can request a free care home shortlist from our care experts, who will share homes matching your budget, location and type of care needed. You can also search for a care home through our easy-to-use directory.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of a care plan?
Not only does a care plan help support care workers in providing a superb standard of care for yourself or your loved one, but they also enable carers to best understand the level and type of care every resident should receive, dependent on their individual needs. Care plans are essential as they provide a detailed outline of exactly what care and support needs to be provided.
Who writes a care plan?
Care plans are almost always made following an assessment and are written by care professionals. The person who is due to receive care will be supported to express how they’d like their care and support to be delivered. The care professional writing the plan will provide information about what services can be offered.
How often is my care plan reviewed?
If your local council has arranged support for you, this must be reviewed within a ‘reasonable time frame’ (normally within three months). After these initial three months, your care plan should then be reviewed at least once a year (or more often if needed).