Intermediate care is a time-limited non-means tested multidisciplinary service, which can be given in a care home, hospital unit, shared lives scheme or the person’s own home. It can be given to prevent a person from losing their independence, or more usually as rehabilitation after suffering an illness needing hospital treatment.

Intermediate care can be distinguished from “respite” care, which is means-tested and provides short breaks to a service user, often with a view to relieving the stresses on their informal carers.

Reablement usually refers to intermediate care carried out in a person’s own home but is also the main objective of all intermediate care. It involves usually a time-limited programme designed to help the person regain lost or impaired skills and confidence caused by a person’s illness or condition. If successful, the person should be able to live independently as before, possibly with additional care and support.

There are several models of intermediate care, which should follow certain standards. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) have published guidance on developing effective intermediate care provision.

There is little information about the numbers of care homes with or without nursing that provide dedicated intermediate care and short-term care programmes, or on their approach and effectiveness.

This topic discusses the management of intermediate care, respite or short-term residential care and reablement programmes carried on by residential care and domiciliary care providers.

Intermediate care provision has been seriously disrupted by the Covid-19 situation, particularly in relation to hospital discharge plans. However, government guidance (August 2020) has intermediate treatment planning as one of its four main discharge pathways, and it could apply up to 40% of discharged patients.

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