The study aimed to identify factors delaying discharge of psychiatric inpatients from a learning disability service. A census was completed, categorising in-patients as unready for discharge (n=181); discharge planned within 12 weeks (n=22); or ready for discharge but experiencing delay (n=44), the latter were followed-up 16 months later.
Delayed patients were more disabled or disturbed and often awaiting adequate community provision. They were older, had been in hospital longer and were ‘informal’ admissions. At follow-up 23 remained in hospital, 21 of whom had been delayed by lack of placement.
De-institutionalisation has led to the expectation that more complex and challenging people be placed in the community. This study suggests the community to be, as yet, unready to cope with the needs of these service users.
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