Support workers in intermediate care

Health Soc Care Community. 2005 Jul;13(4):338-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2524.2005.00563.x.


Despite the proliferation of support worker roles in the UK, little is known about their actual numbers, employment conditions or levels of training. Intermediate care services appear to be an important employer of support workers, but the diversity of intermediate care services makes the task of understanding support worker roles even more complex. This paper presents data from 33 services which were involved in an NHS Modernisation Agency's Changing Workforce Programme project, the Accelerated Development Programme for Support Workers in Intermediate Care in England. Within this project, the main employers of support workers were primary care trusts and/or social services. Participating intermediate care teams were involved in admission avoidance, assisted discharge and reablement, or combinations of these services, and the majority of care was provided in the patient's own home. The 33 services employed 794 support workers and 368 professionally qualified staff. The mean ratio of professionally qualified staff to support workers was 0.95 (range = 0-4.9, SD = 1.05). Support worker roles included multidisciplinary working, meeting rehabilitation needs, providing personal care and enablement. Team leaders included nurses, social workers, physiotherapists, professional managers, home carers and support workers. The most commonly reported sources of support worker training were National Vocational Qualifications and in-house training. In 80% of the services, at least half of the support workers had a qualification. Three models of supervision emerged across the services: the allocation of a mentor; team supervision; and formal and informal line management. These findings illustrate the diversity of employment of support workers in intermediate care. The variations in training, supervision and skill mix have implications for clinical governance and support worker regulation. The employment of support worker staff jointly across health and social care raises cross-boundary issues around employment contracts and pay.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Care Facilities*
  • Professional Role
  • Social Work* / organization & administration
  • Staff Development
  • State Medicine
  • United Kingdom
  • Workforce