Reablement is offered to people who have suffered an acute episode of illness to help them get back on their feet quicker.

What is reablement?

Reablement is the official title given to short-term care at home, to aid recovery after discharge from hospital. While post-operative care and post-discharge care are more general terms, referring to care offered for however long it takes for the individual to get back on their feet, reablement is more specific.

Reablement may involve help with activities of daily living. For example, if someone has had a fall needing hospital admission, they may not be physically capable of coping with daily tasks such as washing, dressing and domestic tasks. It may also involve:

  • physiotherapy
  • occupational therapy
  • nursing care

Previously, people needing care and support may have been admitted to a care home or offered ongoing domiciliary care. However, due to reductions in public sector funding, this level of support is now less common. Now, care is focused on a more intense, shorter period in the home environment.

Reablement is typically provided free of charge for up to six weeks for those in need of support.

Reablement is considered a better alternative to remaining in the hospital, as the person can be encouraged back to normal health more easily in familiar surroundings. Relying on nurses in the hospital can affect an individual’s self-confidence, as the longer they go without independence, the more they believe that they can’t cope on their own.

Reablement puts significant focus on maintaining and improving independent-living skills rather than specifically treating the medical condition. A care worker typically visits the home and offers personal care services such as bathing, dressing, light cleaning tasks and meal preparation.

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Department of Health studies have found that the initial six week period of reablement is successful, with up to 68% of people no longer needing any kind of home care package immediately afterwards and almost half (48%) not needing any help up to two years later.

Who gets reablement care?

Reablement is now available in most areas of England, but it’s run by local authorities, so eligibility can vary. While it can be free for six weeks, some councils are charging for these services.

Patients who are most likely to improve after discharge from the hospital, are prioritised. This means that in some areas those with ongoing conditions that will not improve, like dementia, or those who are nearing the end of their life, are unlikely to be offered reablement care. It’s all dependent on individual circumstances.

In some counties, only those who are about to be discharged from hospital are referred for reablement. In other parts of the country, patients need to be referred by their GP or social services. Some councils apply the Fair Access to Care service criteria before providing reablement, while others base their decision on an individual’s ongoing needs after hospital discharge.

After reablement

Reablement lasts for a relatively short period of time, which can be problematic for the families of those requiring care. While recovery after a hip replacement is estimated to take 4-6 weeks, other traumas can be worse, and serious injuries post-fall can take months to heal to a point of normality. If this is the case families may need to consider organising further support, either amongst themselves or by employing a private home carer.

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If you or a loved one needs care, and reablement is not available to them, or if reablement has been given but is not sufficient to aid full recovery, then hometouch can help.

Dr Jamie WilsonFounder and Chief Medical Officer at Hometouch

Dr Jamie Wilson is hometouch’s founder and Chief Medical Officer. Jamie’s creation of hometouch was inspired by his work as a dementia psychiatrist in the NHS, and he has written about healthcare issues in The Times and the Evening Standard. Jamie has a MBBS from the University of Leeds and has spent a decade in the NHS, working as a Psychiatric Registrar and Memory Specialist at Imperial College Hospital.

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