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NHS Intermediate Care and reablement

NHS Intermediate Care provides free temporary care for up to six weeks. Find out what support you’ll get and under what circumstances.
3 min read
In this article
What is NHS Intermediate Care? What support will you get? What happens after six weeks?
Support for people with complex needs For additional information outside England

What is NHS Intermediate Care?

Intermediate Care is an NHS service providing free temporary care for up to six weeks at home or in a residential care home following a fall or a short illness. It can happen in your own home, in a care home or in hospital. 

NHS Intermediate Care is usually arranged by the hospital social work team before you’re discharged. But it can also be used to enable you to stay at home following an emergency disruption to care arrangements (for example, if the person supporting you has to go into hospital).

What support will you get?

If you are assessed as needing extra support, you’ll get Intermediate Care regardless of your financial situation. The hospital and/or social services will provide what you’re assessed as needing, from physiotherapy to professional carers. The team assessing you will always take into account your abilities, needs and wishes.

There are four main types of Intermediate Care. Where appropriate, you may move from one of the four types to another. Be aware that the range of local services and your personal needs will affect the type of Intermediate Care you might be offered. 


Reablement is where professionals help you either learn or relearn the skills you need to continue living at home. 

The aim is to get you back into your daily routine and to ensure that you’re as independent, mobile, confident and medically fit as possible.

Support staff will usually visit you daily and work on guiding you through daily tasks such as getting washed and dressed and preparing meals, helping you to rebuild confidence you may have lost while you were unwell. 

Read more about the reablement process in discharge procedure from hospital.


Home-based intermediate care is an extra level of support in your own home. Health professionals and sometimes social workers will provide tailor-made exercises to help you become stronger and identify any aids and adaptations that may help you feel safer and more comfortable at home. 


If home-based support isn’t suitable, you may be offered a temporary stay in a care home or community hospital. The type of support will be similar to home-based Intermediate Care but in an external facility.

Care to avoid an unnecessary trip to hospital (often called 'crisis-response') 

Healthcare staff may decide that a stay in hospital isn't necessary for you. They'll work out if your needs can be safely managed by providing short-term care at home or, if appropriate, arranging a short stay in a care home. This can avoid unnecessary hospital admission and give you the chance to recover in a more familiar environment.

What happens after six weeks?

If you need further support after six weeks, you'll be given a plan for transferring to another service. But you may have to start paying for it yourself. Read our guide to paying for care at home for more information. 

If you need long-term care or support, ask your local authority’s social services for a free assessment of your care needs if you haven’t already been assessed.

Use our calculator to find out how much you'll pay for care in your area and what financial support is available.

Support for people with complex needs

If you’re caring for someone with complex care needs who is being discharged from hospital, they might also be eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare or NHS-funded Nursing Care.

For additional information outside England

Further reading

Discharge from hospital

Being told you're ready to leave hospital is positive news. We explain the discharge procedure to help you return home.

Getting a needs assessment

A needs assessment is key to getting the support you need. You have a right to this assessment and it's free of charge.

Paying for care at home

We explain the options for paying for care at home, from local authority support to paying for it yourself.

Last updated: 21 Sep 2020