Understanding intermediate care, including reablement

A quick guide for people using intermediate care services

Intermediate care services provide support for a short time to help you recover and increase your independence.

This support is provided by a team of people who will work with you to achieve what you want to be able to do. Intermediate care may help you:

  • remain at home when you start to find things more difficult
  • recover after a fall, an acute illness or an operation
  • avoid going into hospital unnecessarily
  • return home more quickly after a hospital stay.

Intermediate care at a glance

Services may have different names. There are 4 types that are usually called:

  • reablement
  • crisis response
  • home based
  • bed based.

How is it different to other health and social care support?

  • intermediate care is a free short-term service
  • you will receive intensive support from a range of professionals
  • you'll work with staff to agree your goals (for example making a meal, dressing and putting on make-up) and how to achieve them
  • care staff will help you to practise doing things on your own.

Where does it happen?

  • in your own home
  • in a care home
  • in the hospital.

An image showing an old man on crutches and a care worker

Four stages of intermediate care - what to expect

Before it starts

  • You'll have an assessment by a professional, that takes into account your abilities, needs and wishes.
  • There will be involvement with your family if you wish, in decisions about intermediate care. This includes whether it will be suitable for you and which setting it will be provided in.
  • You'll receive information about advocacy services (an advocate is someone to support you to speak or who speaks on your behalf).

An image showing an old man in a wheel chair and a care worker

At the start

  • There will be a quick start to the service, which could be within a few hours for crisis response, or a few days for other settings.
  • You'll be given information about the service and what will be involved.
  • You'll receive support to plan what you are aiming for (your goals) and how to reach them. These discussions can include your family and carers if you wish.
  • You'll receive copy of the goals you have agreed to work towards in a format that suits you.
  • Help to think about any activities that might be risky will be given, and you'll be able to decide what support you need.
  • You'll have the opportunity to ask questions.

An image showing an old man using a walking frame

While you are receiving the service

  • You'll receive support from a range of people, including therapists, to help you towards your goals.
  • How long the service lasts may change, depending on the progress you make. Any information you need to help achieve your aims will be written in a way that makes sense to you.
  • Day to day entries in your intermediate care diary will record the support you have received and your progress.
  • Information about who to talk to if you have any questions or concerns will be provided.

An image showing an old man walking with a stick

At the end of intermediate care

  • If you need ongoing support, you'll be given a plan for transferring to another service.
  • Information about other types of support available will be provided.
  • You'll be given information about how to refer yourself back to the service, if you need to.

An image showing an old man walking while carrying a shopping bag

The intermediate care team

Intermediate care services are usually provided by a mix of health and social care professionals with a range of different skills. The team might include nurses, social workers, doctors, and a range of therapists:

An image showing an occupational therapist

Occupational therapists help you to work out how to manage everyday activities more easily and independently.

An image showing a physiotherapist

Physiotherapists help you to improve your movement and physical activity.

An image showing a speech and language therapist

Speech and language therapists help you if you have difficulty with communication, or with eating, drinking and swallowing.

An image showing care home staff

Care home staff may be involved if the
service is provided in that setting.

An image showing home care staff

Home care staff may be involved if people
receive intermediate care at home.

This content has been co-produced by NICE and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). It is based on NICE’s guideline on intermediate care, including reablement.