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

S.F. Metzelthin*, T. Rostgaard, M. Parsons, E. Burton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

36 Citations (Web of Science)


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 of reaching 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 per cent 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
Article numberPII S0144686X20000999
Pages (from-to)703-718
Number of pages16
JournalAgeing & Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • reablement
  • aged people
  • activities of daily living
  • health and social care
  • independence
  • daily functioning
  • person-centred
  • inter-disciplinary

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