The provision of care for patients with chronic mental illness is changing with the gradual closure of mental hospitals and the expectation that this group will be largely cared for in the community. In Scotland the process is only beginning. A recent Scottish survey examined the demographic, social and clinical characteristics of 2605 “old long-stay” in-patients, defined as those in hospital more than six years and under 65 years of age at the time of last admission (McCreadie et al, 1991). Patients in 18 psychiatric hospitals serving 83% of the Scottish population were studied. Results showed the population was elderly, 70% being over 60 years of age, and nearly 40% over 70 years. The aim of the present study was to look at the physical health of the old long-stay population in one hospital, namely Crichton Royal, Dumfries, because of the implications of physical health care needs for the management of this group in the community.
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