The move from institutional to community care in the second half of the twentieth century arose in a climate in which civil rights became increasingly prominent, and out of which the modern survivor movement grew (Campbell, 1996). Government policy for mental health services, as set out in Standard Five of the National Service Framework (NSF; Department of Health, 1999), requires that care should be provided in hospital, or an alternative in the least restrictive environment, and as close to home as possible. At the same time, Government policy also attaches increasing importance to the involvement of service users and carers in the planning, delivery and evaluation of services. This paper examines alternatives to hospital care from a user perspective. The problem is that the evidence base for the NSF largely consists of quantitative studies designed to answer questions of concern to mental health professionals. This tells us little about the perspectives of the service user, which is the strength and value of user-led research (Faulkner & Thomas, 2002). Much of what follows is taken from this area, but in addition we describe briefly our own experience of home treatment, which the NSF sets out as one of the main alternatives to in-patient care.
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