To examine the use of specialist psychiatric beds for people with learning disability, created following the closure of a long-stay institution. Admission and discharge data were examined, including history of previous institutional admission, diagnosis at discharge and number of subsequent readmissions.
Out of 348 admission episodes, 59 were accounted for by 40 patients who were previously resident in the long-stay institution. Most admissions were for new patients from the community. Over time, admissions to the specialist unit decreased when occupancy reached and persisted at 100%, coinciding with a significant rise in admissions of adults with learning disability to general adult psychiatric wards.
Resettlement after closure of long-stay learning disability institutions has not been accompanied by a high readmission rate for former residents, but neither has there been a decreasing need for psychiatric beds for those with learning disability and severe psychiatric disturbance. Most of these admissions are for people with learning disability who are relatively new to the service. There has been a persistent problem with full occupancy of these beds, which reflects delayed discharges indicating a lack of community resources and an increasing demand for admission.
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