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BACKGROUND: The difference between the services provided by day hospitals and day centres is far from clear. The supposition that day hospitals would provide an acute service, while day centres would offer social support for a more chronic population has been contentious and there is little evidence of how they are currently used. AIMS: We aimed to ascertain the differences between day hospitals (partial hospitalisation) and social service day centres in functions and roles, as perceived by staff, service users and referrers. METHODS: The views of service users and staff at two day hospitals and four day centres were ascertained through questionnaires and interviews, along with those of staff of eight Community Mental Health Teams, who constitute the sole pathway to the two services. RESULTS: Day hospitals were perceived by both referrers and clients to offer short-term, more intensive 'treatment' to more acutely ill people in need of mental health monitoring. Day centres were perceived to offer longer-term support, particularly social support, to people more likely to have longer-term and psychotic illnesses. CONCLUSION: There is currently a clear distinction between day centres and day hospitals, in key features of their services and client groups. It would be unwise to treat them as interchangeable.


Journal article

Publication Date





151 - 161


Ambulatory Care/*methods Cross-Sectional Studies *Day Care Great Britain *Hospitals Humans Mental Disorders/*therapy Questionnaires Social Support Social Work/*organization & administration