Nursing Care Plans in Action

A nursing care plan is an important part of a patient’s care. And since a nurse’s role is caring for a patient, nursing care plans are an important part of a nurse’s career, as well. Understanding how a nursing care plan is used in patient care can help strengthen your skills as a nurse and improve your relationships with patients.

What is a nursing care plan?

A nursing care plan is a plan of action for the care of a patient. In following the nursing process, after assessing and diagnosing a patient, the nursing care plan is created to take steps to meet the patient and health care team’s goals for the patient’s health. The nursing care plan includes any interventions the nurse will use to help the patient. Depending on the needs of the patient, these interventions can include basic hygiene care such as baths, or physical rehabilitation exercises to help the patient recover from an injury. They may also include guidelines for food and liquid intake if a patient’s diet needs to be restricted in some way. After caring for the patient, the nursing care plan is used to evaluate the patient’s progress as well as the nurse’s abilities.

Why are nursing care plans used?

Nursing care plans are used for several reasons. They keep the patient’s health care team on the same page while caring for him or her. A nurse or doctor can look at the nursing care plan to determine what needs to be done for the patient, as well as what has already been done. This keeps the health care team organized for the best care of the patient. Nursing care plans can also help clear up any disputes or problems that can arise during or after care. For example, if a patient has an adverse reaction to something, the nursing care plan can be consulted to determine what intervention may have caused it so different action can be taken.

How are nursing care plans used?

Nursing care plans are used as guidelines for patient care. The nursing care plan is developed for the individual patient so it is tailored to a patient’s specific needs. Personalizing the patient care allows the nurse to better help the patient meet his or her goals for health. However, they are not rigid. While caring for a patient, a nurse may discover that a particular intervention is not working, or another plan needs to be implemented. The nursing care plan can be altered when needed to improve patient care. Just as a patient’s health is fluid, the nursing care plan must be, as well. Not every patient will fit into a specific mold of patient care, so there is no easy formula for a nursing care plan that can be applied to all patients.

Nursing care plans take patient care from diagnosis to meeting his or her health goals. They guide the nurse and health care team in taking action to help the patient’s health improve and meet goals set by the patient, as well as goals set by the health care team. Remembering that nursing care plans should be as individualized as the patient and his or her needs will help nurses provide better patient care, which will in turn help patients work more quickly and successfully toward their health goals.