For almost 20 years planning for the mentally ill and mentally handicapped has focused on a shift of care from hospital to community, the advantages and difficulties of this process generating much discussion and interest. The hospital population of the mentally handicapped is currently at the forefront of this change, planning impetus now being propelled by alterations in funding with budgets being transferred from NHS to local and social services. One consequence is the closure, or planned closure, of large mental handicap hospitals situated at the periphery of urban centres, with residents being moved to small group homes and hostels within the towns and cities the hospitals once served. The change should prove beneficial for a majority of residents although the process continues to generate debate.
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