Forensic Mental Health Research
  • Print

Long stay in forensic psychiatric care: study completion and findings


The NIHR funded study titled ‘Characteristics and Needs of Long-Stay Patients in High and Medium Secure Forensic Psychiatric Care: Implications For Service Organisation’ led by Professor Birgit Völlm marked its completion in March 2016. The overall aim of this project was to provide data to help improve the quality and cost-efficiency of care and management of patients who stay for prolonged periods in high and medium secure forensic-psychiatric settings.

Key findings include:

  • 23.5% of high secure and 18% of medium secure patients were long-stayers out of the 3 high secure and 23 medium secure participating units.
  • We estimated that there are currently about 730 forensic long-stay patients in England, one fifth have been in high/medium secure care for more than 20 years.
  • Admission source and current MHA section predicted long-stay status.
  • Long-stayers had complex pathways moving between secure settings rather than moving forward to less secure care.
  • They were most likely to be detained under a hospital order with restrictions (s37/41), had disturbed backgrounds with previous psychiatric admissions, including to secure care, self-harm and significant offending histories.
  • Only 50% had current formal psychological therapies.

The study concluded that without a national strategy and service specifications for this group it is likely that their needs are not met. Key factors in the provision for long-stay patients identified included a stable environment allowing the development of long-term relationships with staff and patients, flexibility and an emphasis on quality of life, autonomy, meaningful activities and community links.

Further information about the study can be found at the CANLIS website.

Posted on Monday 6th June 2016

Forensic Mental Health Research

The University of Nottingham
School of Medicine
Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology

telephone: +44 (0) 115 823 1266