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Adult Placement/Fostering in UK Mental Health Care


This study looks at the care of people with long term mental health problems in private homes, a kind of "adult fostering" where non-professionals are paid a modest amount to look after someone who might otherwise be in more institutional care. The intention is that the "adopted" person lives in the carer's own home as one of the family and is treated as such by the rest of the household. This is the first study of its kind in the UK, providing descriptive data about current provision as well as an in-depth study exploring a sample of placements from the service user, carer and placement worker’s perspectives.

Why carry out the research?

There exists a body of research evidence that these services have been used successfully in other parts of the world as part of a continuum of residential care options, particularly in the US and elsewhere in Europe. For some people not yet able to manage independent living but who do not require more formal care, the opportunity to live in an ordinary family home has been shown to have a clear therapeutic benefit.

Adult placements currently have a very low profile in the UK. However, there are signs that the government is keen to promote their use, including the inclusion of adult placement as an example of good practice in the National Service Framework for Mental Health, and recent legislation designed to encourage the use of adult placements as a service distinct from more formal residential care.

As yet there has been no published research looking specifically at these services in UK mental health care. This project, therefore, is intended to fill that gap.

How is the research being undertaken?

The study comprises two parts. The first is a survey of 126 randomly chosen placements. This is a questionnaire completed by the placement worker. The second is a series of qualitative in-depth interviews with the client, carer and worker in 15 placements.

Where is it happening?

This is a national study: the representative samples of placements are based throughout England and Wales.

Who is involved?

The research is being undertaken by Peter Schofield as part of a Department of Health social science doctoral research fellowship, supervised by Dr Diana Rose in the Health Service and Population Research Department (SURE) and emeritus Professor Peter Huxley.

What is the timescale?

To find out more

Peter Schofield

Adult Fostering in Mental Health Care – PhD Weblog


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