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Quick guides published before March 2020 may contain images that do not reflect government COVID-19 guidelines.

A quick guide for people using intermediate care services

image showing a man moving from wheelchair to supported walking to walking with a stick to walking unaided

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.

image showing a man on crutches being supported by a nurse

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.

Four stages of intermediate care - what to expect

  • 1

    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).

    illustration of a man in a wheelchair

  • 2

    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.

    illustration of footprints

  • 3

    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.

    illustration of footprints

  • 4

    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.

    illustration of an older man walking with a yellow 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:

  cartoon of a male occupational therapist

Occupational therapists

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

  cartoon of a female physiotherapist


help you to improve your movement and physical activity.

  cartoon of a female speech and language therapist

Speech and language therapists

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


  illustration of a care home worker

Care home staff

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

  illustration of a home care worker

Home care staff

may be involved if people receive intermediate care at home.

Download this guide

image of the front cover of the quick guide

We've created a copy of this guide that you can print and share. 

Download the intermediate care guide  (PDF)

This content has been co-produced by NICE and SCIE and is based on NICE’s guideline on intermediate care, including reablement.

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