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An audit of new long-stay patients in Irish psychiatric in-patient services

In-patient admissions in Ireland have been dominated by an increasing trend towards shorter episodes of in-patient care. The most recent census of psychiatric in-patients (Daly and Walsh, 2006) pointed to the decline of the long-stay population (both new and old long-stay) from 1966 to 2006, largely as a result of the cumulative effects of discharges and deaths, with the number of discharges and deaths outstripping the numbers becoming long-stay patients.

A total of 548 new long-stay (i.e. those patients who have been in hospital continuously for between one and five years) patients were identified in the 2006 in-patient census but with the number of discharges from public psychiatric hospitals annually (approximately 150) exceeding the number becoming new long-stay (approximately 110), the authors concluded that the remaining long-stay would disappear by 2011.

There has been no national study examining new long-stay patients in Ireland.  In light of the recommendations of A Vision for Change to close all remaining psychiatric hospitals and the reported lack of resources in community facilities it seems apt to examine closely this cohort of patients.

This study aims to examine new long-stay patients identified in the 2006 psychiatric in-patient census with a view to identifying their demographic and clinical characteristics.  It will follow-up these patients one year after the 2006 census date to determine if they still remain in in-patient care or if they have been discharged. The study will examine this cohort in tandem with an analysis of the provision of community-based services and recommendations made by the policy document A Vision for Change.