The family experience of deinstitutionalization: Insights from the closing of Central State Hospital

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Since the early 1970s, policy makers and researchers have expressed concern about the potential negative consequences of deinstitutionalization on families. This article summarizes results of a survey of family and lay caregivers of patients discharged from Central State Hospital, which closed in June 1994. The survey was designed to assess the impact of the closing on family members, including their attitudes, caregiving responsibilities, and involvement in the treatment of the patients. Results indicate that family members have mixed feelings about the closure. Family caregivers also reported that they have not been asked to take on significant amounts of the caregiving responsibilities since the clients were moved from the hospital. Family members described a significant reduction in the frequency of contact they had with their loved ones and with professional caregivers since the closure. Implications for behavioral health policy makers considering or planning closing or downsizing long-term care facilities are discussed.

An earlier version of this article was presented at the 1997 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana. The analyses and conclusions reported here are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or opinions of the funding institutions or Indiana University.
He is also with the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research in Bloomington.