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Regaining your independence

After an injury or illness, or as you get older, you may find it more difficult to do some of the things which you used to be able to do, and that you need some support to help get these abilities back.

Your local Community Independence Service (CIS) aims to get you back to doing day-to-day things for yourself, and being as independent as possible.

They can also quickly arrange nursing and other medical support which may prevent you from later needing to go to hospital.

The team aims:

  • to support you on discharge from hospital to settle back into your home, and to regain your ability to do things for yourself.
  • to support you after an accident or illness to regain your ability to do things for yourself.
  • to avoid admissions to hospital when possible.
  • to maximise your independence and reduce the need for you to rely on others for support.

The key point about the team is that they will aim not to do tasks for you, but to help you to get back to doing the tasks for yourself.

The team will either help you relearn skills which you have lost as a result of a health problem, or to learn new ways to do things. They will:

  • assess what your current problems are
  • agree a set of goals with you based on what you want to achieve
  • work with you over a period of time - normally up to six weeks - to achieve these goals.

Your goals will vary greatly depending on your needs; for example you may be aiming to walk by yourself to the local shops, to get into the bath, to wash your feet, or to use cutlery to cut up your food.

The CIS may help you to practice particular day-to-day skills (known as 'reablement'), or to agree an exercise programme to build up your strength and to achieve your goals (known as 'rehabilitation'). Depending on your situation you will complete the exercises with a member of the team, or by yourself.

Sometimes you will be provided with gadgets (known as assistive technology or Telecare) or other equipment to assist you to do things more independently.

The CIS team is a mix of staff from both the local council and the local health service. Depending on your situation, you may receive support from:

Nurses who can help with monitoring your recovery from an illness, reviewing your medication and liaising with medical staff involved in your care.

Social workers who can arrange day-to-day support in your home whilst you are receiving help to re-learn practical tasks, (as you may not be able to do some things until you can get your strength back).

If you need further support once the period of reablement or rehabilitation has ended, a social worker can discuss and arrange this with you.

Occupational therapists who can help you to learn how to do day-to-day activities such as washing, dressing or preparing food which you may be finding more difficult.

Physiotherapists who can help you work on your physical abilities, such as regaining the use of a body part that has been affected by an illness.
Physiotherapists will often work with people to improve their ability to walk.

Health and social care assistants, support workers and care workers who will support the other professionals by assisting you with day-to-day activities (such as washing yourself or preparing meals), and with following any exercise programmes you have been given.

The CIS help people during a period of sudden illness or after an injury to recover and remain well at home. This can be through:

  • Rapid Response - a fast assessment and short term treatment (for up to five days) by a multidisciplinary team
  • Rehabilitation and Reablement - for those who need support over a longer period of time (up to six weeks) through therapists and reablement workers

The CIS recognise that some people may have a combination of needs.

If necessary they will work alongside mental health urgent response teams too so you get the support you need.

The CIS will usually aim to work with you in your own home.

Sometimes people who have had a serious health problem such as a stroke may need to receive rehabilitation or reablement support in another setting before they are safe to return to their own home. Such support usually takes place in a hospital or a care home.

The CIS aim to provide intensive short-term support with the intention that this leads to long-term improvements. The length of the support may depend on what you're recovering from and how severe your symptoms are.

The CIS may need to work with you for just a few days or weeks, but will occasionally work with you for up to six weeks (for rehabilitation and reablement) and up to five days for Rapid Response if this will be of benefit to you.

Any health care professional can refer you to the Rapid Response team, for example after a spell in hospital or following a visit to your GP surgery. The CIS cannot take referrals directly from members of the public for Rapid Response.

For rehabilitation and reablement referrals, the CIS will also take referrals from a social worker. At present, the CIS cannot take referrals directly from the public, unless the CIS have previously provided them with a service.

Once the CIS receives a referral they will work out what kind of support would best help you to regain your independence, and will make sure that you are in touch with the right people.

Opening hours

Services are provided between 8am - 8pm, 7 days a week and deliver a coordinated approach to patient care.

Call the Single Point of Referral on 0300 033 0333 (Select option 2 for CIS) or for non-urgent referrals, email

To find out more please go to the Community Independence Service (CIS) website.

For adult social care referrals contact your local CIS team as follows:-

Kensington and Chelsea

Via Adult Social Care
Phone: 020 7361 3013

Information and Advice Team: 020 7361 2968


Via Adult Social Care
Tel: 020 7641 2500

Last updated: 03/04/2024