Role of carers and families in reablement

Reablement is a strengths-based, person-centred approach that promotes and maximises independence and wellbeing.

The film introduces Jill Hunter who was recently discharged from hospital with limited mobility, following major surgery. Jill lives alone and was determined to return to her independent lifestyle. To enable this, Central Bedfordshire adult social care services commissioned their reablement team to work with Jill. We hear from two community reablement workers about the incredible transition people like Jill can make from initially requiring intensive support to being completely independent. We also hear how crucially important it is for families to ‘buy into’ the reablement ethos and contribute to its success. In turn, Emily Holzhausen (Carers UK) describes how reablement teams must respect and involve families, recognising their role as part of the whole support circle.

Key messages for practice

  1. Supporting older and disabled people through reablement can significantly improve their independence, giving them confidence to manage alone at home or with reduced support.
  2. Reablement is underpinned by a very different ethos to traditional home care, which normally involves doing things for an individual. In contrast, reablement involves care workers standing back and encouraging people to learn or re-learn skills they may have lost through illness or disability.
  3. Reablement can also be of great benefit to families of people using the service since it can reduce the amount of care they need to provide. Families should be treated as part of the whole care circle, playing an important role in sustaining the benefits of reablement as well as benefitting from it.
  4. It is crucial for social workers and reablement providers to encourage families’ support for reablement. This should include teaching families new approaches to providing care. Just as reablement care workers are taught to stand back, families can be encouraged to do the same, resisting their natural response to intervene when the person is struggling with a task.
  5. Since reablement is a relatively new service, professionals need to be very clear with families about its boundaries in terms of the nature and length of support. If the ending of the service is not handled well, family carers can often feel abandoned.

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