The demand for intermediate care far outstrips the supply, with more planning needed by commissioners to help tackle the problem, an audit has found.
The first National Audit of Intermediate Care led by a range of different commissioning groups including CCGs, as well as the British Geriatrics Society, the NHS Benchmarking Network and the Royal College of Physicians found that overall capacity may be less than half of potential demand for intermediate care services.
It also revealed some weaknesses in strategic planning by commissioners, with evaluations into the impact of intermediate care on hospital use and long term care limited in some areas and more planning needed to address the demand and capacity issues.
The audit was built on pilot projects carried out by the by the British Geriatrics Society and Older People's Specialists' Forum and the NHS Benchmarking Network in order to assess the effectiveness of intermediate care services and how to improve them.
The audit found that the average patient who needed intermediate care was 81-years-old, while 42% of users were over 85. And around 79% of users of the services had one or more long-term conditions that might potentially influence rehabilitation outcome, the audit found.
It also revealed that around 4% of those receiving intermediate care at home stayed in the service for more than 90 days, which is beyond the Department of Health deadline of six weeks taking up one fifth of total capacity.