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Care after illness or hospital discharge (reablement)

If you or someone you know has been in hospital or had an illness or fall, you may need temporary care to help you get back to normal and stay independent.

This short-term care is sometimes called intermediate care, or aftercare. Reablement is a type of care that helps you relearn how to do daily activities, like cooking meals and washing.

Most people who receive this type of care do so for around 1 or 2 weeks, although you might be able to get free, short-term care for a maximum of 6 weeks, if this service is available in your area. It will also depend on how soon you are able to cope at home.

You may have to pay for some types of care yourself.

When you can get free short-term care and how to get it

After leaving hospital

Care can help you recover from an illness or an operation.

Hospital staff will assess your health and help you to decide if you need further help to recover. If they think you do, they will arrange care before you leave hospital.

Speak to the person in charge of you going home (discharge co-ordinator) to make sure this happens.

The care you're offered depends on the types of care services available in your area.


Contact social services if you have been discharged and care hasn't been arranged.

The hospital will not get involved after you leave.

After a fall or short illness

Care can help you avoid going into hospital if you do not need to.

If you or someone you know falls or needs help because they're ill, speak to your GP surgery or social services.

They may be able to arrange for someone to come to your home and discuss what you need.

If you have started to find everyday tasks difficult

You can get help with daily tasks. This can help you learn new ways of doing things before needing paid home help.

If you find everyday tasks difficult, you can apply for a needs assessment at GOV.UK. This will identify the type of care or equipment you need.

What care you'll get

A team with a mix of people from the NHS and social services will help you do the things you need to do to stay independent.

This might include getting dressed, preparing a meal, or getting up and down stairs.

They might care for you at first, but will help you practise doing things on your own.

Your team might include:

  • a nurse
  • an occupational therapist
  • a physiotherapist
  • a speech and language therapist
  • a social worker
  • doctors
  • carers

They'll start with an assessment that looks at what you can do. You'll agree together what you want to do and set out a plan.

The plan will include a contact person who's in the team and the times and dates they'll visit you.

What happens when aftercare finishes

When aftercare finishes, your team should work with you and your family or carers to agree what happens next.

This should include:

  • other care you might need, such as home help
  • how you can refer yourself again if you need to
  • what you should do if something goes wrong
  • information about what other types of support or equipment might help

Ask your team's contact person about what happens next if your aftercare is coming to an end.

Page last reviewed: 18 May 2022
Next review due: 18 May 2025