Writing a Care Plan


Writing a care plan can be as complex as you want with every detail spelled out, however I recommend simplicity.  One of the primary purposes of a care plan is to ensure continuity of care.  This means that other people must be able to read and understand what needs to be done.  If the plan is too complicated, they will become frustrated, feel inadequate, and may miss something important.

You can write a care plan on a lined piece of notebook paper, on the computer, in an organizer, or simply on a calendar.  If you choose to use a calendar, be sure it has date squares large enough to write in,  and use it only for the purpose of a care plan.  Keep in mind the care plan will need to be flexible in order to meet the changing needs of your loved one.  For this reason, I would write out a care plan for no more than a month at a time.

If you haven’t read the post discussing the first step in developing a care plan, please take a moment to do that now by clicking this Link.  I have also included links for a sample care plan and a blank template for you to use if you so desire.  Be sure your printer is set to Landscape Orientation.


You can use the checklist from the Care Assessment Form as discussed in “First Step Toward Developing a Care Plan,” or you can develop your own list to begin.  Hopefully, your care receiver has participated in developing this list as it will give them a sense of inclusion and control.  They are more apt to be cooperative, also, if they have input.

Once you’ve identified what assistance is required, you will decide how many times per week help is needed for each item.  It might be daily, weekly, or monthly.  You can write these directly onto your calendar if that’s what you’re using.  Otherwise, enter the items into the left-hand column, drawing a line under each all the way across the page.  Make 7 more columns to the right of this (one for each day of the week) and label them as Sun, Mon, Tues, etc.   You will now have a grid on which to work.

Go through your list and place a checkmark under the day of the week assistance is needed.  If there are some items that you don’t want others to handle, go ahead and write in your name or initials next to the checkmark.  For all the other items, I suggest you recruit help.  This team can include other family members, close friends, neighbors, church members, hospice aides, outside agencies, etc.  Don’t try to do it all yourself!

There are a couple options in completing the care plan.  Once you have recruited help, you may want to gather everyone together and allow them to choose what assistance they can offer.  However, if you fear there may be squabbles among the group, you can pencil in their names, matching them to tasks that fit their skills and willingness.  Then you can politely ask each one individually if they will handle those specific items.

Last, but not least, attach a separate piece of paper or leave space at the bottom for pertinent notes.  These notes may be your first clue that the person’s condition is changing.  If so, you will need to decide if a call or trip to the doctor is needed.

The hardest part of this process is accepting that everyone has their own way of doing things, probably a little different from your own.  You will need to take a deep breath, let go of your preferences, and be thankful for the help.  They will be a blessing to you during this difficult time, and in return, they will be blessed for their compassionate service in a time of need.



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First Step Toward Developing a Care Plan


Why bother with a care plan, you might ask — don’t I have enough to do!?  The most important reason is this — an individualized care plan ensures continuity of care.  For example, you may need a substitute or assistant, and a care plan will help that person immensely.  In addition, it will ease the anxiety of the person you’re caring for, knowing their needs will be met.

It gives you and your loved one a comforting structure.  If at all possible, you should include your family member in its development.  This will give them a sense of control and dignity, and you will learn more about their concerns.

It will help you monitor the person’s changing condition, at which time the care plan can be revised.  This may also signal it’s time to notify their doctor to see if an evaluation or change of medicine is needed.

A care plan offers structure and organization, key elements in controlling your stress level.  You won’t be spending sleepless nights worrying that you’ve missed something important to their care.


A care plan can include anything that you and the receiver want or need.  Think of it as an action plan in progress as it will need modifications to coincide with their changing condition.

Start by doing a Care Assessment, which is simply a list of current concerns.  This will give you a strong base upon which to build.  The list below will help you get started and is also available by clicking the link above or looking under the category of Forms & Templates. Things to consider might include the following:

Does the person …

  • Drive?
  • Do laundry?
  • Bathe/shave/shampoo/brush teeth?
  • Dress without assistance?
  • Attend school or have home schooling?
  • Attend church?
  • Climb stairs?
  • Prepare meals and feed self?
  • Walk without assistance?
  • Schedule medical/dental appointments?
  • Pay bills?
  • Understand simple directions (written or verbal)?
  • Use the phone/cell phone/email?
  • Have problems with balance/falls/hearing/vision?
  • Do basic housekeeping (dust, vacuum, sweep, clean bathroom, wash dishes, etc.)?
  • Take medications responsibly?
  • Manage medical equipment (example:  oxygen)?
  • Feed and care for pets?
  • Speak coherently?
  • Use the toilet?
  • Get the mail?
  • Get help if needed?
  • Handle yard work?

You may think of other items for your list, but this is a good starting point.  When you’re ready, read the post on how to develop the written plan itself. 

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