The Role of a Service Plan in Senior Care


In senior living lingo, a service plan is a clear, concise guide of the services that will be provided to a senior in assisted living or nursing care, as well as their preferences, such as meal and entertainment preferences. The senior living community staff will use the service plan as a guide for all interactions with the senior.

If you had a birth plan when you were pregnant, you might remember that it detailed how, ideally, you wanted the birth to unfold. Of course, the plan could be re-assessed and changed at any time for yours and the baby’s welfare and safety.

Similarly, a senior care plan should be detailed but flexible, so it can change as the senior’s needs or preferences change.

The business analogy would be a Service Level Agreement: a detailed account of services to be performed, guidelines, and what is expected of both parties.

In an assisted living community with á la carte services, monthly fees may go up or down as the service plan changes. In a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) most services are included at one rate that remains the same.

What’s Included in a Senior Care Service Plan?
An effective service plan begins with an assessment of the senior’s health, ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), medication schedule, physical abilities, and dietary needs.

The service plan should include:

  • What ADLs the senior will receive assistance with, and on what schedule
  • Mealtimes and special meal preferences or nutritional needs, such as a diabetic or heart-healthy diet
  • Medication schedule, and whether the senior will receive medication reminders or if someone will dispense medications
  • Entertainment preference and schedule of activities
  • Exercise schedule
  • An outline of housekeeping that will be provided, and list of tasks seniors will do for themselves
  • How much interaction seniors will have with assisted living or nursing home staff

Who Draws Up the Service Plan?
It is typically the role of the senior community or nursing home to write the service plan based on feedback from the senior and their loved ones. Be very skeptical of a senior community that does not offer a service plan. If everything else about the facility checks out and you feel comfortable there, ask about a detailed service plan. You might prefer to write it yourself with input from your loved one, and then meet with the senior facility staff to see if there’s anything you may have forgotten and to ensure that they will agree to the service agreement terms.

The important thing is that all parties understand what is expected, and the senior community agrees to provide the level of care the senior and their family expects for the money they are paying. A service plan puts this agreement into a legally binding document to ensure the best care for seniors in an assisted living community or a nursing home.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (866) 662-0435 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.