Objective: To generate a picture of the range, configuration and staffing of community and intermediate care services in the United Kingdom (UK) and to ascertain whether any relationships exist between service configuration and staffing models.
Method: A service audit tool was sent to members of the Community Therapist's Network (CTN) and to chief executives of primary care and National Health Service trusts in the UK. Data were collected from the CTN and chief executives of primary care trusts (PCTs) and NHS trusts between late 2005 and early 2006.
Results: The overall response rate to the two audits was 37% (n = 243), with 77% of these responses (n = 186) useable. Services varied greatly in terms of their organisation and staffing configurations. Skill mix varied according to the location of service delivery, with home-based services utilising more therapy and support staff than inpatient services. Two clusters of service emerged, based on the number of referrals per year, support staff in the team and the level of care provided by the service.
Conclusion: There are no clear patterns to the structure and organisation of community and intermediate care services in relation to their purpose, and it remains unclear how different staffing configurations impact on service costs and patient outcomes. The amount of variation observed indicates that there is likely to be considerable variability in service costs and outcomes for the teams. Further evidence is required to determine the impact of different staffing models, and to identify approaches that optimise both effectiveness and efficiency.