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CQC: Serious mental health sufferers face long stays in rehab far away from home

Nearly two-thirds of placements in residential-based mental health rehabilitation services are ‘out of area’, the CQC has found.

The health and social care regulator announced the findings in a report published today, which warned that people in rehab for serious mental health problems were more likely to face lengthy stays further away from home and support.

A service is ‘out of area’ when the patient is placed into residential rehab outside of the CCG area that arranged their residential care.

According to the CQC, the majority (78%) of out of area placements are with independent sector providers rather than the NHS.

Patients being cared for out of area can lead to them being further from home, and means they are more likely to stay for longer, with patients on average spending 14.5 months in care compared to 7.5 months in a ward in a NHS service.

This also ends up costing more, as the CQC estimated that the daily cost for residential mental health rehabilitation was similar (£350 for a NHS bed, compared to £364 for an independent sector bed), although the figure for independent providers went up to costing twice as much as NHS services due to longer stays.

The regulator recommended that local bodies like trusts, CCGs and councils review how appropriate their current placements are for patients in residential mental health rehab, so that they can be confident they are fully enabling patients’ recovery.

“Inpatient rehabilitation services have a vital role to play in supporting people with severe mental health problems to recover and return home,” said the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals (lead for mental health), Dr Paul Lelliott.

“Collectively, the independent sector and the NHS make a valuable contribution to the delivery of mental health rehabilitation and in helping people to step back on the road to living more independently.

“However, we are concerned about the high number of beds in mental health rehabilitation wards that are situated a long way from the patient’s home,” he continued. “This dislocation can mean that people can become isolated from their friends, from their families and from the services that will provide care once they have been discharged.”

And Catherine Gamble, Royal College of Nursing professional lead for mental health, argued that people with serious mental health problems were isolated enough without having to spend long periods in rehabilitation units far away from their family and friends, who vital to aiding recovery. 

“It’s not acceptable that when people are at their most vulnerable, they aren't closer to home and in familiar surroundings,” she stated. 

“However, the problem is not just that many people are having to go to centres too far away - it’s also the quality of the care that is provided. 

At the moment it’s a lottery as to whether robust, supportive, recovery-based treatment is available.”



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