What is Intermediate Care?

Intermediate care (IC) is a form of short-term, non-means-tested support that is offered to those who have the potential to improve and live more independently with specialist support. However, it is important to note that IC is not an entitlement to free care following a hospital stay.

The main purpose of IC is to provide active rehabilitation to help individuals become as independent as possible after a hospital stay, to assist them in continuing to live at home despite increasing difficulty with daily life due to illness or disability, or to prevent a premature move into residential care. It can also help avoid unnecessary hospital admission safely.

Personal goals are agreed upon based on an individual's current health, abilities, and wishes, and staff trained to observe, encourage, and guide individuals provide support to enable them to do things themselves, rather than carrying out tasks for them. Through IC, individuals are empowered to reach their goals and improve their quality of life.

How does it work?

It's important to know that IC is a form of active rehabilitation, not a period of free care.

Typically, Intermediate care lasts no longer than 6 weeks, but it can be as little as one or two weeks if the staff believe that's what you need to achieve your goals. It's important to note that intermediate care is expected to be flexible with time frames as, in some cases, it may take a bit longer than six weeks to reach your goals.

IC services may be arranged, and provided by either the NHS or the local authority, or by both working together. While a local authority must provide intermediate care free of charge for the first six weeks (or for the agreed timescale if it's less than six weeks), they have the discretion to extend provision of free services if necessary.

What is Intermediate Care?

During this period, staff works with patients to set personal goals based on their health, abilities, and wishes. Staff will observe, encourage, and guide patients towards these goals, supporting them in doing things themselves, rather than carrying out tasks for them. Staff should regularly review patients' progress to see if further progress is likely and, if not, complete a needs assessment if they think the patient may require long-term care and support.

Find out more about various ways in which intermediate care is delivered and types of Intermediate Care Services and Support.

Setting Personal Goals

When staff determine that you have the ability to participate in IC and have the potential to live more independently, they will conduct a comprehensive assessment and collaborate with you to establish personal objectives. This includes considering your strengths, weaknesses, and priorities that are important for your independence and well-being. You can choose to involve your loved ones or seek assistance from an advocate to support you throughout the process. Staff also strive to support you in living in your preferred location whenever possible.

Goal setting and follow-up involves:

  • Setting measurable and realistic goals. These may relate to improving your mobility, changing safely from a sitting to a standing position, using stairs or carrying out daily living activities such as washing, dressing, preparing a simple meal, or engaging in social or leisure activities
  • Considering what input or services would help you in this process for instance assistive equipment or personal care
  • Agreeing a time frame within which you would hope to reach your goals
  • Determining type of intermediate care you need
  • Drawing up a care and support plan
  • Recording your progress
  • Regularly reviewing your goals and progress, making adjustments as appropriate

Before discharge from intermediate care, you should have a care and support assessment from the local authority social services department to find out if you need long term support.


When to consider intermediate care?

Here are some situations when one should consider intermediate care.

  • To support timely discharge from hospital
  • Look for a simple and safe alternative to hospital admissions
  • Finding it difficult to live alone
  • Facing permanent move to residential care due to illness, injury or frailty

Read also, 5 Situations When You Should Consider Intermediate Care for you or your Loved Ones?


Accessing Intermediate Care and Reablement

If you think you or your relative may benefit from intermediate care, then you should speak to the person responsible for your (or their) care.

You should consider talking to your GP, a community or social worker who manages your care, or emergency department staff. They should help you with the intermediate care services.

If admitted to hospital, you may discuss this with staff responsible for your discharge, as early as possible.

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