A serious birth injury such as cerebral palsy requires a lifetime of care. You want to be prepared to provide the long-term care your child will need - and for him or her to be taken care of after you are gone. One key element of this long-term care is a life care plan, that is, an organized plan to address the lifetime needs of an individual with a disability.
A life care plan is a dynamic document that provides an organized, concise plan for your child's current and future medical needs. The goal of a life care plan is to maximize independence, health and quality of life.
What's included in a life care plan?
Home or facility care: Some birth injuries require in-home care such as a visiting nurse. Others may require the patient to live in a long-term care facility. Either should be accounted for in a life care plan.
Medications: Medications may be needed to treat seizures, reduce muscle spasms or manage pain, among other symptoms. A life care plan should account for interactions between and side effects of medications, and should be frequently revised as new medications become available.
Medical and adaptive equipment: Necessary medical equipment may include canes, walkers and other mobility aids, as well as communication aids and other medical devices. It also may be necessary to make modifications to a home or vehicle to accommodate these aids.
Surgical interventions: Surgery may be needed to correct physical symptoms of a birth injury. Depending on the type of surgery, it may be necessary wait until a certain stage in your child's development, so surgery may be years or even decades down the road.
Potential complications: Birth injuries can have complex symptoms that evolve over time. While it is not possible to plan for every potential contingency, a life care plan should include plans to address likely complications.
Ongoing assessment: Many birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy, have symptoms that change over time. Ongoing assessment and revision is a critical part of any life care plan because it needs to adapt to your child's changing needs.
The final element of a life care plan is cost. Medical expenses can easily add up to hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars over the course of a lifetime of care. There are also ordinary living expenses, such as food and housing, to consider. The funding portion of a life care plan may include government benefits such as Social Security and Medicaid, as well as legal vehicles such as a special needs trust that can manage money to pay for services not covered by those programs.
If your child's injury was caused by medical negligence, the best way of funding their life care plan may be to pursue financial compensation from the responsible medical provider. You can explore your legal options in a free consultation with an attorney licensed in your state.