Developing a Care Plan

Last Updated October 2020 | This article was created by familydoctor.org editorial staff and reviewed by Deepak S. Patel, MD, FAAFP, FACSM

Everybody has a health history. Maybe you have a chronic (long-lasting) medical condition. Perhaps you take some prescription medicines on a regular basis. Or maybe you just take over-the-counter medicines for minor body aches every now and then. Whatever your situation, it’s important to record your health history. This is done with care plans.

Path to improved health

A care plan is a list of all items related to your health. This plan will cover everything from your medical conditions to your health insurance information, and more. It’s a way to keep track of all your medical information in one place.

You can find blank care plan forms online or you can ask your doctor for one. No matter where you get your form, take it to your next doctor’s appointment and have your doctor help you complete it. Sometimes a close family member can help you complete part of it, too.

There are two basic types of care plans. Each one serves a different purpose so it’s important to complete both types.

Complete Care Plan

This type of care plan outlines your complete health history. It’s broken into several sections:

  • Your personal information. Include your name, address, and birth date.
  • Your medical conditions. Be sure to include all conditions you may have, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, etc. If you are taking medicine to keep a problem under control, it still needs to be listed (such as high blood pressure or cholesterol).
  • Your current medicines. Include the name and dosage information for any prescription or over-the-counter medicines you take.
  • Your doctor. Note your doctor’s name, their office address, and phone number. Be sure to include information for all the doctors and specialists you have.
  • Your health insurance information. Include the name of your insurance company and its phone number. Be sure to include information for all insurance policies you have, including Medicare and/or Medicaid.
  • Your hospital of choice. List the hospital you’d like to go to, if you had a choice. Include the hospital name and phone number.
  • Your caregiver information. If someone comes into your home to help you, note their information on the complete care plan. This includes people who provide services such as visiting nurses, home health aides, or therapists. For each caregiver, provide the person’s name, the name of the company they work for, and that company’s phone number.
  • Your advanced care planning information. This section includes any legal documents you have, such as a will or power of attorney. It’s best to attach these legal documents to the plan.
  • Your emergency contact. This is the person you’d want to be contacted if something happened to you and you were unable to contact them yourself. This may be a family member or a trusted friend. You may want to include more than one person as an emergency contact. For each person, include their name, their relationship to you, and their phone number.

Once your complete care plan is filled out, be sure to share it with your doctor. Also take it to your doctor’s appointments throughout the year. Ask your doctor to review it and let you know if anything needs to be updated. Take it with you if you go to the hospital for any reason. It may provide the doctors the information they need to treat you. Also share it with a trusted family member or friend in case they need to share it with a medical professional if you’re unable to do so yourself. It’s best if this family member or friend is also one of your emergency contacts.

Daily Care Plan

The information in a daily care plan is similar to that in the complete care plan. However, it’s not as detailed. A daily care plan will include:

  • Your medical conditions
  • Your current medicines
  • Your insurance information
  • Advanced care planning information
  • Your emergency contact

A daily care plan’s purpose is to provide the day-to-day information people need if they care for you in your home. Each of your caregivers can refer to the plan as the single source of information about your health. In order for the plan to be seen by all caregivers, post it in a central, easy-to-see location. Many people choose to post the plan on their refrigerator.

Things to consider

Once you’ve completed your care plans, be sure to review and update them as needed. Good times to update them include if you add a new medicine or stop taking a current one. Other times to update the plans include if you’re diagnosed with a new health condition, if you want to change your emergency contact, or if you update any advance planning information. At the very least, review your plans once a year.

Questions for your doctor

  • Who should I share my care plans with?
  • Why should I complete both care plans?
  • Will you help me update my plans?