Background: Little is known about the experiences of individuals with intellectual disabilities and additional mental health problems who are admitted for inpatient psychiatric care. In the UK such care is delivered in both generic psychiatric and specialised treatment settings.
Aims: The present study explored service users' and carers' views on in-patient psychiatric treatment received across these two settings.
Method: Thirty service users and wherever possible their main carers were interviewed about their views on the psychiatric admission, treatment and discharge process. Data was gathered during semi-structured, one-to-one interviews.
Results: Both service users and carers identified positive and negative aspects of the psychiatric admission. For service users lack of control and information, support from staff, or conversely its absence emerged as key themes. For carers concerns about service users' vulnerability, negative staff attitudes and opportunities for involvement emerged as key themes. The accounts of both groups regarding generic psychiatric settings were predominantly negative. In contrast, specialized settings were frequently described as providing a pleasant environment, supportive and caring staff, good information sharing and satisfactory discharge arrangements.
Conclusions: Important areas for service improvements are highlighted. Implications in particular for generic settings are considered.