How to formulate nursing care plans

Updated April 17, 2017

Nursing care plans, also known as care plans, are necessary for providing care to patients in a variety of settings and for varied lengths of time, depending on the patient's condition, diagnosis and prognosis. Many different components make up a common nursing plan. Knowing the key elements found in a nursing plan and how to formulate an effective and well-thought-out plan enables nurses to provide better patient-centred care.

Write a nursing plan that takes a number of factors into consideration. For example, a nursing plan must form some sort of action or response to the patient's illness or condition. You should develop a plan of care that assesses and addresses how you plan to care for the patient in a well-thought-out process, basing your plan on facts regarding the case and the patient's current and potential problems, suggests Virtual Nurse.

Define the basic elements of the nursing plan in outline form. The basic elements of a nursing care plan include risk factors, rationales, interventions and outcomes, all based on the patient's diagnosis. For example, to develop a care plan for a patient diagnosed with chronic pain, your nursing outcomes may include pain control, coping measures and improved quality of life.

Write down possible interventions you may perform to achieve your nursing care plan goals. In a patient diagnosed with chronic pain, for example, consider possible interventions aimed at reducing pain and increasing comfort levels. Your nursing interventions may include -- but are not limited to -- pain management, education regarding managing medications, and complementary or alternative pain relief therapies such as massage, acupuncture or acupressure, heat therapy and so forth.

Assess the patient on a regular basis, but when creating your care plan, pay special attention to details. For example, again using the chronic-pain patient as an model, note the location of pain, the duration of the pain, the severity of the pain rated on a scale of 1 to 10, and other factors. This information-gathering process will help you focus specifically on the patient's complaint or illness and determine the best methods for increasing his comfort levels and independence.

Help the patient develop management strategies to deal with his chronic pain by providing education, answering questions and offering continuity of care, all details of which should be included in the care plan.

Evaluate the patient's progress during the treatment or observation phase of care on a continuous basis, creating easily identifiable and measurable goals throughout the period of care.

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About the Author

Denise Stern is an experienced freelance writer and editor. She has written professionally for more than seven years. Stern regularly provides content for health-related and elder-care websites and has an associate and specialized business degree in health information management and technology.