In the UK, intermediate care (IC) is conceived as a range of service models aimed at 'care closer to home' and involves the expansion and development of community health and social services. Intermediate care in Denmark is more clearly defined, where approximately 45% of all the counties in Denmark have established a community-based IC unit in which public health-care services are offered to older people who have completed their hospital treatment. The impact of this organisational initiative is yet to be explored. In particular, the knowledge of the patient perspective is sparse and contradictory. The aim of the study was to explore how older people experience being in an IC unit after hospital discharge and before returning to their home. Data were drawn from 12 semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were analysed using a phenomenological approach. The essence of being in an IC unit was envisioned as 'moments of conditional relief' that emerged from the following constituents: 'accessible, embracing care', 'a race against time', 'meals-conventions with modifications', 'contact on uneven terms', 'life on others' terms', and 'informal but essential help'.