Background. Intermediate care has become a crucial part of the United Kingdom government's programme for improving services for older people. Older people comprise a substantial part of the user base for these services, and it is increasingly recognized that there is a need for greater user involvement in service development for intermediate care. National initiatives undertaken in intermediate care have sought to widen and deepen the remit of such services, and in this way promote greater independence and improved quality of care for older people. In particular, the government has set out clear plans for reshaping services for older people in the National Health Service Plan and the rationale for greater involvement of older people in service development. This article considers ways in which these national and local objectives may be achieved and considers some of the implications for nursing.
Aim. This paper aims to explore the concept of intermediate care and to identify trends and existing evidence of user involvement in care. In this way it charts a possible way forward for the development of a more ‘user sensitive’ approach.
Method. The following databases were searched: Medline, Cochrane Library, the Social Science Citation Index and CINAHL. Key words were ‘intermediate care’, ‘older people’, ‘formal care’, ‘primary care’, ‘social services’ and ‘geriatrics’, used in combination.
Findings. The findings from this study indicate that there is considerable scope for increased user involvement in service development for intermediate care. Such challenges may be more effectively met through greater clarity of the concept of intermediate care, and a bridging of user involvement at the practice and policy levels. Nurses are key providers of intermediate care in the community.
Conclusions. The involvement of older people in intermediate care service development must be premised on a shared comprehension of the purpose and function of intermediate care. Nurses must be involved in shifting intermediate care from being service-focused to patient-centred. Effective participation eschews the application of global constructs for older people, while supporting greater participation at all levels and robust implementation processes.