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Care plan

If the person you care for is assessed as being eligible for support, the next stage is to draw up their care plan. This sets out how their package of support will work, and is also sometimes called a support plan.

What's in a care plan

The person you care for should be fully involved in agreeing their care plan, and they should also get a written copy. The care plan should contain details of:

  • their eligible needs
  • the goals they’ve agreed they would like their plan to help them achieve (these are sometimes called "outcomes")
  • the services they’ll get to help them achieve their goals, and who’s responsible for providing these
  • whether they’ll get these services directly from their local authority, or if they’ll get direct payments or a personal budget so that they can choose their own services
  • any charges they will have to pay for their services
  • any support that you or other carers are willing and able to provide, and your views
  • a risk assessment, including any actions that will be taken to manage risks
  • a plan for dealing with emergencies
  • any differences in opinion that you, or the person you care for, have had with the local authority about the assessment or care planning process
  • the name of the person responsible for implementing, monitoring and reviewing the care plan 
  • the date of the next review of the care plan

Some care plans may be quite short, for example, if it only covers a minor one-off service.

Care plans will vary, but some general principles govern the way in which local authorities meet community care needs. In social care (and also in healthcare), there’s a move towards personalisation. This means giving people more choice about the support they get from local authorities and other service providers.

Government guidance says that support for ill and disabled people should help them to:

  • live independently
  • have as much control over their life as possible
  • participate in society on an equal level, with access to employment and a family life
  • have the best possible quality of life
  • keep as much dignity and respect as possible

It’s worth remembering that if there are different options that would meet someone’s assessed needs equally well, the local authority can choose the most cost-effective option.


The care plan should be reviewed after the first three months, and then at least annually. The review looks at whether the goals (or outcomes) that were identified in the care plan are being met. It should also review these goals to make sure they’re still appropriate, and check that any risk assessments are up to date.

If, after the review, the person you care for is still eligible for help from the local authority, their care plan will be updated. If it’s decided that they no longer qualify for local authority support, they should receive written reasons for this, with information about other help available.


If you’re not happy with a care plan, the services provided, or the way an assessment was carried out, you will need to use the local authority complaints process. Sometimes it can be helpful to get support when you’re making a complaint. Sources of help can include a local carers centre, CAB, or advocacy organisation. You can search the directory of local carers' services or call the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053 to find help in your area.

Coping with a long-term condition: the care plan

In this video, find out how a care plan helps patients take control of their condition by setting out goals that cater to their individual needs.

Media last reviewed: 14/05/2013

Next review due: 14/05/2015


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Page last reviewed: 09/04/2014

Next review due: 09/04/2016

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