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Preliminary findings are reported from a specialist unit for difficult to manage patients (those patients who have severe behavioural problems in addition to a mental illness). Staff attitudes and residents' psychiatric and social needs were assessed after the unit had been open for just over a year. The effect on residents' behaviour and symptoms over the course of that year was also evaluated. Findings showed that staff attitudes were resident orientated and that interactions between staff and residents and of staff with each other were almost always positive. These findings compared favourably with data collected on three other continuing care units in the same Trust and with data from previously published studies. The Cardinal Needs Schedule, a recent adaptation of the MRC Needs for Care Assessment Schedule, appeared to be a useful way of identifying unmet needs of the residents and gaps in service provision. Over the course of the year, behaviour in one third of the residents improved sufficiently for them to be considered suitable for potential discharge into community based accommodation. Implications of the findings for specialist units for difficult to manage patients are discussed, together with suggestions for further research.

Original publication




Journal article


Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy

Publication Date





67 - 77