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Psychiatric in-Patients Away From Home: Accounts by People With Intellectual Disabilities in Specialist Hospitals Outside Their Home Localities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Deborah Chinn, Ian Hall, Afia Ali, Holly Hassell, Iannis Patkas

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50 - 60
Number of pages11
Issue number1
PublishedJan 2011

King's Authors


Background This study reflects a growing concern with the placement of people with intellectual disabilities and complex mental health problems in out of area placements at a distance from their families and communities. Materials and methods We interviewed service users (n = 17) living in out of area in-patient psychiatric units using a semi-structured interview as part of a service user consultation process. The questions addressed safety and security, food, facilities, day time activities, education, opportunities for socialization, clinical, cultural and religious needs, carer involvement and access to information. Service users were also asked where they would prefer to live if they were to leave the hospital. Results Although there were some positive stories, service user responses suggested limited opportunities for engagement in therapeutic or educational experiences, for building supportive relationships with staff or other residents, for developing religious and cultural identities or for enhancing family relationships. Conclusions Whilst many of the issues raised by participants will be familiar to critics of institutional care, being placed at a distance from home is likely to put an additional strain on relationships with family members and limit opportunities to engage in practices valued by specific ethnic minorities. Commissioners and managers of community intellectual disability services should bear in mind the perspective of service users with complex mental health needs, and take seriously the drawbacks in placing individuals out of area.

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