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Keywords:

  • autonomy;
  • career development;
  • intermediate care;
  • roles;
  • satisfaction;
  • support worker

Aim.  The purpose of this study was to examine, in depth, the impact of intermediate care services on staff job satisfaction, skills development and career development opportunities.

Background.  Recruitment and retention difficulties present a major barrier to the effective delivery of intermediate care services in the UK. The limited existing literature is contradictory, but points to the possibility of staff deskilling and suggests that intermediate care is poorly understood and may be seen by other practitioners as being of lower status than hospital work. These factors have the potential to reduce staff morale and limit the possibilities of recruiting staff.

Design.  The research is based on interviews with 26 staff from case studies of two intermediate care services in South Yorkshire.

Results.  Participants reported high levels of job satisfaction, which was because of the enabling philosophy of care, increased autonomy, the setting of care and the actual teams within which the workers were employed. For most disciplines, intermediate care facilitated the application of existing skills in a different way; enhancing some skills, while restricting the use of others. Barriers to career development opportunities were attributed to the relative recency of intermediate care services, small size of the services and lack of clear career structures.

Conclusions.  Career development opportunities in intermediate care could be improved through staff rotations through acute, community and intermediate care to increase their awareness of the roles of intermediate care staff. The non-hierarchical management structures limits management career development opportunities, instead, there is a need to enhance professional growth opportunities through the use of consultant posts and specialization within intermediate care.

Relevance to clinical practice.  This study provides insight into the impact of an increasingly popular model of care on the roles and job satisfaction of workers and highlights the importance of this learning for recruitment and retention of staff.