Research Topic

From Residential Care to Supported Housing

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Mental health policies in most countries led in the last decades to the downsizing or closure of large institutions and the corresponding growth of community residential settings for people with mental disorders. Although the residences were originally developed to allow the discharge of hospitalized ...

Mental health policies in most countries led in the last decades to the downsizing or closure of large institutions and the corresponding growth of community residential settings for people with mental disorders. Although the residences were originally developed to allow the discharge of hospitalized long-stay patients from mental hospitals, they are now considered a key permanent component of mental health care. Residence models, however, underwent a number of substantial changes in last years and a range of residential solutions with different levels of support and a variety of functions can be found in the mental health systems: long-term care facilities alternative to mental hospitals, provision of time-limited rehabilitation services, accommodation for homeless with mental disorders, crisis intervention in alternative to acute inpatient admission, transition to independent life after short inpatient treatment, specialized setting for intensive treatment of some specific groups, support to independent living for people with psychosocial disabilities. The picture of residential facilities is therefore quite complex and different mental health systems often present a mix of residential solutions for people with mental disorders, ranging from large traditional institutions to programs providing flexible need-led support by visiting staff to people living in their own accommodation, consistently with a recovery model in mental health care. The move towards flexible models emphasizing people's autonomy is apparent in many countries policies.

Research on this topic addressed so far mainly the following aspects: outcomes of people moving from institutional settings to community accommodations; the risk of transistitutionalization; development of the classification of models of residential services; differences between independent and assisted living settings; characteristics of programs targeted to the reduction of homelessness among the seriously mentally ill.

Further research should address outcomes of residential care for people who had no history of psychiatric hospital admissions with special attention to social functioning; characteristics of users of the residential services; integration with other components of mental health services; user-led quality assessment; experiences of people receiving residential care; community involvement and responsibility; relationship with housing policies.

We invite researchers in the field of health and social sciences to submit high-quality papers using both quantitative and qualitative methods focused on the following issues:
- reliability and validity of tools for classifications of residences
- cross-country comparisons of models
- consumer-led outcome evaluation
- historical development of residential services
- supported accommodation in early interventions
- controlled trials of effects on the functioning of supported housing
- funding of residential services
- longitudinal studies of mental health and psychosocial outcomes of people receiving supported accommodation services
- reports of consumers experiences
- residential settings for crisis interventions
- residential care for special populations
- housing needs of people with mental disorders in the framework of housing policies for disadvantaged people.


Keywords: community support, severe mental disorders, psychosocial rehabilitation, consumer empowerment, housing


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