Creating a rehabilitation plan to manage your recovery from a serious illness, injury, relapse or exacerbation of symptoms is doing what you can to take control and positively influence your outcomes.

Sometimes on this journey you can feel at a loss on what to do and where to get information. As I said last week and previously, you don’t know what you don’t know when you get ill or injured. And when you don’t get much information from medical and healthcare professionals, that makes it harder to know what to do. Feeling a bit lost in this respect is entirely normal.

So I am going to share what I and others have learned about creating a rehabilitation plan. This builds on last week’s blog in which I wrote about the ten principles which underpin a good rehabilitation plan.

A woman is sitting inside looking dejected. Her wheelchair is in the corner and her walking sticks are lying on the floor. Outside the window it looks like a nice sunny day. Above the window is the caption, 'Life happening out here!' The woman is saying, 'I need to make my life happen again! Both in here and out there. I need a plan but where do I start?' Creating a rehabilitation plan can help you rebuild and renew your life.


In writing this blog, I realised that to share my knowledge with you adequately, this needs to be several blogs. I had written over 6,000 words, the equivalent of a major assignment for a masters degree! That was too much for one blog.

Therefore, this week I am giving you an overview of what creating a rehabilitation plan entails. Successive blogs will focus on setting goals and then what you need to consider for each section of a rehabilitation plan.

These blogs may not be published one after another but when they are, I will refer back to previous blogs in this rehabilitation planning series. This blog is your starting point.

It doesn’t matter what stage you are at in your recovery/rehabilitation

Maybe you just received a diagnosis, are in the early stages of your recovery, or have been through treatment and no longer under the regular care of a medical or healthcare professional.

Maybe it has been more than a year since the acute phase of your illness or injury and you are still adjusting. Or even some years since the original event and you are dealing with the ongoing impact and whatever else life has thrown your way.

There is something in here for everyone. Even those of you in a caring/supporting role. You too are impacted by your loved one’s health issue and you have had to make changes as a result. Many of the ideas here will help you to create a plan for you to look after yourself and your needs.

A #rehabilitation plan is for you no matter where you are at on your journey – just diagnosed, during treatment, after treatment, several or many years after the acute phase #chronicillness #wellness Share on X

Things to keep in mind whilst creating a rehabilitation plan

I’ve taken a holistic approach to creating a rehabilitation plan focusing on the medical, non-medical and various parts of your life.

Given your rehabilitation plan will be very specific to your needs and you are all on different journeys, some of what I mention may not be relevant to you. That’s ok. Use what is. Discard what isn’t.

Each section represents a transition in an aspect of your life you are going through due to the health issue you or a loved one is experiencing. They are meant as a starting point. And it doesn’t matter where you start. Start with those that feel a higher priority to you.

Get help from family, friends and suitably qualified professionals as and when you need to.

When thinking about a rehabilitation plan for yourself, keep in mind the ten principles I wrote about last week.

This picture shows the 10 principles to include when creating a rehabilitation plan. It's holistic. It focuses on what matters to you. It involves those close to you. It specifies any specialist expertise you need and who can provide that. It's goal oriented. It can be adapted. It contains info on what to do when you experience a setback, a relapse or fluctuation or progression of symptoms. It contains info on what to do in a medical emergency. It contains info on what to do when you are doing really well too. And it is for life. There is a little boy in the corner of the pic who is saying, "My mummy's plan is helping her play with me again.'

What to consider when creating a rehabilitation plan to progress your recovery

Set specific goals on what is important to you in the various aspects of your life. The goals can be large or small. Break down any large goals into smaller ones as that can make it easier to achieve.

The various aspects of your life, all which can feed into your rehabilitation plan, are listed here. Some of them overlap one another.

1. Managing your health issue

This is more about the medical side of things and your physical health: the medications you take, routines you have, learning how you are affected, managing symptoms, what you do in a medical emergency, when you are not doing great (but it’s not an emergency), when you are physically in a good place, and your healthcare team.

If you are in a caring/supporting role, this is is about managing your health.

2. Your physical environment and getting around

How you may need to adapt your home or move home, adapt your car and equipment you need so you can do daily activities or do them more easily.

3. Nutrition and making any needed changes to your diet

Sometimes your health issue may require you to make changes to your diet. Sometimes it doesn’t. But sometimes making changes can lessen symptoms and so may be advisable.

Regardless, what we eat and drink (and don’t) is fuel for our bodies and when you are recovering from a serious illness or injury or living with a chronic illness, you want to give your body what it needs and nourish it.

4. Prioritise your emotional health

This goes without saying. I tweeted the other week that experiencing a life-changing health issue (yourself or someone else’s) is that jarring wake-up call to life, that you’re mortal and not invincible. It also gives you that permission to make yourself a priority and look after yourself. This is so important. You cannot afford to not look after your mental health.

5. Nurture your relationships

You need good people around you. So this is about taking stock of who is around you, what relationships you need/want to let go of, what kind of relationships you want going forwards, and who isn’t a part of your journey but you want them to be.

Nurturing your relationships are part of creating a rehabilitation plan. A woman is sitting down with her walking sticks nearby and she is thoughtfully considering the following questions about her relationships. Who do I have around me whom I love? Which friends are part of my inner circle? Who isn't any longer? Who might be willing and able to help me? How can I help those close to me help me? What kind of relationships do I want going forwards? What relationships do I need or want to let go of? What isn't part of my life but I would like them to be?

6. Financials

This can be impacted when a health issue enters your life so this is about knowing what changes you need to make and where you can get support.

7. Return to work, volunteering and/or education

You may wish to return to your existing job, change jobs, even change careers. Or you may wish to volunteer instead or return to education. You may wish to retire and find ways to still contribute in some way.

8. Your leisure activities

Your leisure activities are really good for your mental health so this is about returning to previous activities, adapting how you approach them if you need to, and/or finding new activities.

9. Cultural factors to consider

Sometimes the culture we are raised in has specific attitudes towards health, illness and disability and this can have an impact on how we deal with our own or a loved one’s health issue, our relationships and how we get on in and with society.

Sometimes the culture we were raised in has specific attitudes towards #health #illness and #disability and this can have an impact on how we deal with our own or a loved one’s health issue and our relationships. I reckon this… Share on X

10. Spirituality/ Faith

This applies if spirituality and/or a faith are important to you. A serious health issue can test your faith and you may argue with it, and/or even turn away from it for a while or forever. It can also lead you to incorporate spirituality and/or faith into your life more consciously.

11. Your life purpose

This is about who you are, want to be, what you consider important to you now and into the future, the kind of life you want to live and what kind of person you want to be known for.

Set goals on what is important to you when creating a rehabilitation plan. Your goals can be in the area of managing your health issue; your physical environment and getting around; your diet and nutrition; nurturing your relationships; prioritising your emotional health; finances; leisure activities; returning to work, volunteering or education; your life purpose; spirituality and/or faith; and any cultural factors you may need to consider.

There is actually a lot to consider when creating a rehabilitation plan

And only one part of it is medical. There is rather a lot that is non-medical but has a significant impact on you and your life.

It may feel like a lot to address. Don’t take it on all at once. Just focus on those areas that feel the highest priority to you and you think could make the most difference to you and how you are feeling.

And it’s ok if it takes a few years or more to get through all the sections. What is in a section may also change over time too. That is entirely normal.

Stay tuned for future blogs in this series on creating a rehabilitation plan.

When creating your #rehabilitation plan, you don’t need to do everything all at once. Just focus on those areas that you feel are the highest priority for you, they can make the most difference to you and how you are feeling.… Share on X

What’s it like for you?

Which aspects mentioned above about creating a rehabilitation plan are most relevant to you right now? What if anything, do you feel is missing? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).

If you are living with a serious health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support to create your own rehabilitation plan, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

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