The development of community services to replace two long-stay psychiatric hospitals in the North East Thames Health Authority region of the UK has been the subject of a research programme since 1985. The economic evaluation is conducted by the Personal Social Services Research Unit; research results relating to the first five cohorts of hospital leavers are reported in this paper. When followed up 1 year after discharge, almost half of the sample were living in highly supported residential care units, most of which were managed by district health authorities. More than 40 services provided outside the accommodation facility were used by clients and, although contact with certain professionals remained constant, some changes in service use over time were marked. The average total cost of community care for this group was £ 493 per week (1992–93 prices), accommodation facility costs comprising approximately 85% of the total. In the new service configuration, district health authorities fund half of the costs of supporting the hospital leavers, 50% less than when they funded long-stay hospital placements. The rest of the funding burden is borne by a range of agencies, resulting in pressure on budgets and staff case loads.
Community careCostsPsychiatric hospitalMental healthService utilisation