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When you are recovering from a serious illness, injury or operation, it’s natural to need time and support to get back on your feet.

Perhaps you’ve lost your confidence to shower or bathe without help. Maybe you’re no longer able to stand for long enough to prepare a simple meal or perhaps you’re frightened of falling when you use the bathroom. You might be nervous about going outside again, making it difficult to go shopping or to meet friends.

Often, all that’s needed to get back to normal is a few weeks intensive support at home. Social workers and nurses often call this ‘reablement’.

What is reablement?

Reablement services help you learn or re-learn the skills necessary for you to live safely and independently at home.

Reablement focuses on what you can do, rather than what you can’t.

Successful reablement doesn’t always mean going back to doing things exactly the way you did them before, but finding new ways for you to do things. It’s about helping you to be as independent as possible, improving your quality of life and minimising the chances of you going back into hospital.

If you need reablement services, you should get support quickly. For example, if you are being discharged from hospital, your reablement services will usually start when you go home.

Reablement services can also revitalise the life of someone who has gradually deteriorated over a period of time, perhaps as a result of social isolation.

How does reablement differ from community care services?

Reablement services are provided for a set amount of time - usually up to six weeks – and the aim is for you to regain your independence at home.

In contrast, personal (home) care services are provided with no expectation that you will quickly reach a point when you no longer need support.

Reablement workers focus on confidence-building and will motivate and encourage you to do things for yourself rather than having things done for you.

Reablement is an intensive and short-term service so it is likely the support workers will visit more often and stay with you for longer than a home carer is able to. An occupational therapist, physiotherapist or other social care/health professional might pop in occasionally to check how you are getting on.

Gwent Frailty Programme’s film has real-life examples of people who are ‘happily independent’ after receiving reablement (and other intermediate care) services.

Last updated: 31/05/2016