Objective: To investigate the extent and nature of community rehabilitation services within the United Kingdom.
Design: A postal survey starting with the Community Rehabilitation Network and extending to any other teams identified or making contact.
Setting: The National Health Service within the UK.
Subjects: Any team who identified themselves as a community rehabilitation service that worked 'primarily with adults with physical disability' within the UK.
Intervention: A questionnaire was sent to each team identified with follow-up telephone contact to clarify answers and/or to encourage replies.
Results: One hundred and fifty-two organizations were sent questionnaires and 145 replied, but 47 were excluded for various reasons leaving 98 valid replies. Four types of team were identified: community rehabilitation teams, young disabled community teams, community teams for older adults, and specific client group teams. There were huge variations in management arrangements, team composition, goals of the services and likely lifespan of the service.
Conclusions: Community rehabilitation in the UK is currently characterized by small, often short-term teams with poor identity and the term has no clear or consistent meaning.