Skip to content

Research recommends targeted approach to home care

Posted on 12 January 2011

A specialist re-ablement approach in home care services to help people recovering from acute illness, falls or fractures will pay dividends in terms of quality of life and effective use of health and social care budgets, according to new research led by the University of York.

There was widespread agreement among managers and front line staff in the study that re-ablement was of greater benefit for people recovering from acute illnesses, falls or fractures than those with chronic or progressive health problems

Professor Caroline Glendinning

Home care re-ablement is designed to help people living in the community or who have recently been discharged from hospital, to regain confidence and re-learn self-care skills, with the aim of reducing their requirement for long-term support.

The study, led by the Social Policy Research Unit at York and also involving the Personal Social Services Research Unit at the University of Kent, was commissioned by the Department of Health. It examined the effectiveness of ‘home care re-ablement’ – a new, short-term intervention in English home care. In November 2010, the Government allocated £70 million to NHS Primary Care Trusts to develop new re-ablement services, rising to £150 million next year, and thereafter £300 million annually until 2015.

The researchers compared people in five English local authority areas who received home-care re-ablement with a group receiving conventional home care in a different five local authority areas. The study involved more than 1,000 people.

The findings included:

  • Re-ablement was associated with a significant decrease in subsequent costs of social care service use.
  • The reduction in social care costs was almost entirely offset by the initial cost of the re-ablement intervention. The average cost of a re-ablement episode was £2,088 with a mean cost of £40 per hour of service user contact time.
  • Re-ablement had positive impacts on users’ health-related quality of life and social care-related quality of life, in comparison with users of conventional home care services.
  • Using the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence cost-effectiveness threshold, re-ablement was cost effective in terms of health and social care costs.

Lead researcher Professor Caroline Glendinning, of the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York, said: “Many local authorities are developing inclusive re-ablement services, accepting most new service users. However, there was widespread agreement among managers and front line staff in the study that re-ablement was of greater benefit for people recovering from acute illnesses, falls or fractures than those with chronic or progressive health problems.”

The researchers found no apparent net cost savings to health and social care services in the first year after re-ablement, compared with conventional home care. However, they concluded home care re-ablement is almost certainly cost-effective because of improved outcomes for users.

The researchers advocate closer relationships between home-care re-ablement and physiotherapy services, particularly as the NHS starts to develop re-ablement services. They also recommend further research into how carers can contribute to and benefit from re-ablement interventions.

Notes to editors:

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153

Keep up to date

 Subscribe to news feeds

 Follow us on Twitter