‘If they’re helping me then how can I be independent?’ The perceptions and experience of users of home-care re-ablement services


Professor Caroline Glendinning
Social Policy Research Unit
University of York
York YO10 5DD, UK
E-mail: caroline.glendinning@york.ac.uk


Home-care re-ablement is a short-term, intensive service that helps people to (re-) establish their capacity and confidence in performing basic personal care and domestic tasks at home, thereby reducing needs for longer term help. Home-care re-ablement is an increasingly common feature of English adult social care services; there are similar service developments in Australia and New Zealand. This paper presents evidence from semi-structured interviews conducted in early 2010 with 34 service users and 10 carers from five established re-ablement services in England. The interviews formed part of a larger, mixed-methods study into the immediate and longer term impacts and cost-effectiveness of home-care re-ablement services. There was clear evidence that interviewees felt that they had benefitted from re-ablement services; most service users and their families valued the intervention. However, the interviews also identified potential barriers to optimal independence for some service users, particularly those with progressive conditions, sensory impairments, specific cultural needs, or who lived alone. The beneficial impacts of re-ablement could also be reduced if users failed to understand the aims of the service, or if the service failed to provide support with activities or outcomes that were particularly important to the service user or carer. Putting the lived experiences of people receiving re-ablement at the centre of analysis, this paper concludes that re-ablement services have the potential for enhanced effectiveness, particularly if there is more understanding of users’ own priorities and concepts of independence.