Development of an internationally accepted definition of reablement: a Delphi study

Silke Metzelthin*, Tine Rostgaard, Mattthew Parsons, Elissa Burton

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


With an ageing society, the demand for health and social care is
increasing. Traditionally, staff provide care for their clients rather than
with them. In contrast, reablement aims to support people to maximise
their competences to manage their everyday life as independently as
possible. There is considerable variation between and within countries
regarding the conceptual understanding of the approach. This variation
affects the ability to evaluate reablement approaches systematically,
compare and aggregate findings from different studies and hinders the
development of a robust evidence. Therefore, a Delphi study was
conducted in 2018/9 with the aim to reach agreement on the
characteristics, components, aims and target groups of reablement,
leading towards an internationally accepted definition of reablement. The
study consisted of four web-based survey rounds. In total, 82
reablement experts from 11 countries participated, reaching agreement
on five characteristics (e.g. person-centred), seven components (e.g.
goal-oriented treatment plan) and five aims (e.g. increase clients’
independency). Furthermore, most experts agreed that reablement is an
inclusive approach irrespective of the person’s age, capacity, diagnosis
or setting. Based on these features, a definition of reablement was
developed, which was accepted by 79% of participating experts. This
study is a significant step towards providing conceptual clarity about
reablement. Future research should focus on evaluating the
implementation of agreed reablement components to inform practice,
education and policy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAgeing & society
Number of pages16
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes

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