What Is A Nurse Life Care Planner?

Nursing is “the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations” according to the ANA. “Nurses are (uniquely)… attuned to the whole person, not just the unique presenting health problem.” This includes family and individual reactions to actual or potential health problems.

We use critical thinking and the nursing process as the basis of our life care plans.  That means we assess health and functional status, make nursing diagnosis, plan, establish goals, intervene or delegate to qualified persons, and coordinate care. We base our recommendations on nursing diagnosis, “a clinical judgment concerning a human response to health conditions/life processes, or vulnerability for that response, by an individual, family, group, or community,” as defined in the Nurse Practice Act specific to the state of RN licensure. (AANLCP Membership Guide, 2008; NANDA-I)

A Nurse Life Care Plan includes:

  • Medical record review and summary of medical treatment, complications, and outcomes.
  • Nursing assessment, when possible, with the client, family or caregiver to discuss present symptoms, limitations, abilities, activities of daily living, psychosocial considerations, family dynamics, and patient/family goals.
  • Nursing diagnoses of the client’s individual needs, developed in collaboration with other healthcare providers when possible/appropriate.
  • Research to determine long-term outcomes, complications, costs for care, and maintenance and replacement necessary to meet medical and non-medical needs.
  • Recommendation for nurse case management to implement the plan and evaluate outcomes.

The NLCP as Expert Witness

Daubert v.  Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. set the standards for whether an expert’s testimony should be admitted into evidence. The four factors to be considered are whether (1) the underlying theory (LCP process) can and has been tested, (2) the theory has been subjected to peer review and publication, (3) the technique has a known or potential error rate, and (4) the theory or technique has gained general acceptance as valid by a relevant community.  The Texas Supreme Court added two additional factors: (5) the technique relies upon a subjective interpretation of the expert, and (6) non-judicial uses which have been made of the theory or technique

Nurse life care planning meets Daubert criteria. Nurse life care planning has a published definition and utilizes a methodology. It is evidence-based, subjected to traditional research, and is used by other professionals in applying published techniques to benefit the client.  It provides for case managers to implement or evaluate the recommendations. 

We consider reasonable and necessary goods and services that are specific to the disability, reflect the goals of the client and family, and are dictated by the geographical area where the client resides. The recommendations included in the nurse life care plan are founded in current research, practice guidelines, and established standards within the medical, nursing, and rehabilitation professions. 

The potential error rate of the nurse life care plan is based on the author’s knowledge and skill.  Lifecare planning process is now included in professional courses such as rehabilitation counseling, nursing schools, and textbooks. 


A Nurse Life Care Planner is an essential part of the team when you’re working with individuals with life-changing injury or health conditions. Call 740.964.9366 to arrange a no-obligation consultation.


Certified Nurse Life Care Planner