Psychiatric hospitals condemned by study

Conditions in London’s psychiatric hospitals bear all the worst
institutional features, according to a study by the Sainsbury
Centre for Mental Health.

In a comparative study with residential homes, researchers found
that psychiatric in-patients receive vastly inferior care.

Intervention by staff ‘tended to be of a neutral or negative
nature’, the Centre said. ‘Residents were often isolated, had few
opportunities for recreation and enjoyed very little privacy.’

By contrast, those in residential care had a good level of
independence and privacy, and better surroundings.

Matt Muijen, director of the Sainsbury Centre, said: ‘There will
always be a small number of people for whom community care is not
the answer. They require a safe haven in a well supervised, well
appointed and comfortable setting. Prompt action is required to
ensure standards in remaining hospitals are not permitted to
decline further.’

The survey compared 20 homes in the capital with five hospital

Authors of the report also stressed that there were issues for
residential care providers to address. Because the influence of an
individual head of home is ‘over-riding’, ‘commissioners and
providers should … pay particular attention to the selection and
training of senior staff’.

‘Providers should give particular attention to the issues of the
restrictiveness of the environment and the amount of privacy,
choice and so on offered to people with long-term mental health

* Inside Residential Care: the Realities of Hospital Versus
Community Settings, 0171 403 8790.

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