Standards for rehabilitation services

The provision of inpatient adult rehabilitation medicine services in public and private hospitals

These seven standards cover the aspects of rehabilitation medicine service provision.


A specialist rehabilitation medicine service primary objective of care is to help patients achieve their optimal level of functioning and participation in society.


A patient's rehabilitation service is delivered by a range of medical, nursing, allied health and other staff team members, who have the appropriate skill base and training to provide care.

Facilities and equipment

Adequate and appropriate facilities and equipment are required for the rehabilitation needs of patients as well as provide a safe learning environment for retraining in lost skills.

Policies and procedures

Documented policies and procedures ensure rehabilitation patients are part of a safe, appropriate, accountable, effective and measurable process during their recovery.

Quality improvement and risk management activities

Rehabilitation services require a quality improvement and risk management framework that addresses consumer involvement, access and delivery of all treatment programs.

Education and training

All rehabilitation services must continue to be actively engaged in continued education, teaching and ongoing professional development.


Actively promote and engage in the importance of research activities within your rehabilitation service.

The purpose of these standards is to guide RACP Fellows, government, health service planners and administrators in their decision making about the provision of inpatient adult rehabilitation medicine services in public and private hospitals. This document builds upon previous versions of The Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFRM) Standards documents and incorporates updated best practice and consensus guidelines into one single document, which can be used as a reference.

Application of the Standards

The AFRM is committed to the provision of comprehensive, high quality care in the services in which its Fellows practise. This document on Standards for Adult Rehabilitation Medicine Services in Public and Private Hospitals refers only to specialist rehabilitation medicine units. (In particular, it is stressed that these Standards do not refer to medical rehabilitation programs conducted by other physicians who are not specialists in rehabilitation medicine). The Standards do not apply to other restorative health or healthcare programs containing rehabilitation if they do not fulfil the criteria established by the AFRM for a specialist Rehabilitation Medicine service. See Demonstrating the Standards, Governance 1.2 – 1.8.

These Standards relate to the provision of inpatient rehabilitation programs only and are to be considered general standards. While also applicable to the provision of tertiary level, highly specialised, inpatient rehabilitation programs (for example, brain injury, spinal cord injury or burns rehabilitation), these tertiary rehabilitation programs may have requirements which are beyond the scope of this general Standards document.

For paediatric rehabilitation, see AFRM Standards for the provision of Paediatric Rehabilitation Medicine Inpatient Services in Public and Private Hospitals.

Application of the Standards in other rehabilitation settings

Rehabilitation medicine physicians also provide programs outside of traditional inpatient rehabilitation units (for example, in various community-based settings; as day hospital programs, or; in acute care settings such as an acute stroke unit or an ‘in-reach rehabilitation team’ providing rehabilitation services to patients within acute wards of the hospital). These Standards, while not designed specifically for use in these alternate settings, can nonetheless be used as a guide. Please refer to the AFRM Ambulatory Standards for further information on ambulatory rehabilitation medicine services.

Future development

Over time, it is the intention of the AFRM to develop Standards for use across a range of care settings and programs as newer service models become more established.

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