Rehabilitation in different contexts

REACH focuses on ways to use rehabilitation interventions in the care of people living with mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Rehabilitation is a broad term that is inclusive of ideas of reablement, restorative and function focused care.

Rehabilitation  is “a set of interventions needed when a person is experiencing or is likely to experience limitations in everyday functioning due to ageing or a health condition, including chronic diseases or disorders, injuries or traumas” 

World Health Organization


Emphasises person-centeredness

Offers interventions that are tailored to individuals’ needs and preferences

Collaborates with the person to set their goals and strategies, and supports achieving them

Through rehabilitation, we aim to:

Improve, restore, and/or maintain function

Help the person compensate for lost function

Help prevent or delay further functional decline

In Australia, the term rehabilitation is generally used to refer to the care that is provided after acute illness or injury. The Australian Government uses the terms reablement and restorative care when referring to rehabilitation related to ageing.

Reablement has been used to describe the rehabilitative approach used for older people living in the community or care homes. Reablement involves time-limited interventions that are targeted towards a person’s specific goal or desired outcome to adapt to some functional loss, or regain confidence and capacity to resume activities

Restorative Care is described as “evidence-based interventions led by allied health workers that allow a person to make a functional gain or improvement after a setback, or in order to avoid a preventable injury. Interventions are provided or are led by allied health clinicians, general practitioners or other health professionals based on clinical assessment of the individual.”

Read about more how these terms are used in the Australian Government’s Community Home Support Packages here.

Irrespective of the term used, the core beliefs that underpin rehabilitation are:

  • Functioning is central to health and well-being – it is integral to how a person is included and participates in meaningful activities and life roles.
  • Rehabilitation is person/family-centred – it is orientated around the specific needs and goals of the person and their family.
  • Rehabilitation is collaborative – it requires consultation with, and the active involvement of, the person and their family.
  • Rehabilitation should be available to all who need it-it should be integrated throughout the continuum of care for anyone with impairment in functioning who are experiencing activity limitations and participation restrictions.