Introduction to life care planning: an online course
Witty, Tracy Lynn
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Life care planning remains an emerging area of practice for many health fields including occupational therapy. The International Academy of Life Care Planners (2003) defines a life care plan “as a dynamic document based upon published standards of practice, comprehensive assessment, data analysis, and research, which provides an organized, concise plan for current and future needs with associated costs for individuals who have experienced catastrophic injury or have chronic health care needs” (p. 5). The demand for life care planners is high. Various educational programs are available for occupational therapists to attain training on the practice of life care planning; however, only three 120-hour programs approved by the International Commission on Health Care Certification meet the educational requirements for becoming a Certified Life Care Planner. After a review of the evidence literature, there is a void in the occupational therapy literature and practice guidelines on the topic of life care planning. Without professional guidelines or formalized training in this area of forensic practice, occupational therapists can easily and unknowingly misstep when entering the field of life care planning. This lack of awareness has the potential to adversely impact client care, attract public criticism for the occupational therapist, and potentially damage the reputation of the occupational therapy profession itself. An online course titled Introduction to Life Care Planning will aim to address a general lack of awareness of life care planning amongst occupational therapists and improve evidenced-based occupational therapy practice in this area. Keilhofner’s Model of Human Occupation (MOHO) (2008) is employed to highlight the commonalities between life care planning and occupational therapy to occupational therapists interested in the emerging practice area of life care planning. The outcomes of this course will be to expand the presence of occupational therapists within the practice area of life care planning and encourage occupational therapists to follow the published standard methodology for life care planning. This is anticipated to improve the quality care for individual clients while protecting the reputation of occupational therapists and the profession within the transdisciplinary field of life care planning.