Why you should read this article: • To learn about the differences between psychiatric intensive care, low secure and locked rehabilitation units • To understand how service provision in psychiatric intensive care, low secure and locked rehabilitation units has changed since 2006 • To gather information on the types of interventions offered by the different psychiatric intensive care facilities Psychiatric intensive care can take place in a variety of settings, including psychiatric intensive care units (PICUs), low secure units (LSUs) and locked rehabilitation units (LRUs). These units have a range of referral, admission and discharge care pathways, staffing profiles and core interventions. The aim of this service evaluation was to compare present provision in PICUs and LSUs with results from the first national survey of PICUs and LSUs in 2006. The service evaluation also aimed to define the role of LRUs. The authors used a cross-sectional, ‘census day’ questionnaire with six-month follow-up design. Overall, 111 NHS units participated in the evaluation. Results included that PICUs were smaller and usually had a mixed-sex distribution of service users; LSUs mostly comprised single-sex facilities; and LRUs mostly comprised single-sex units with a significantly longer mean length of stay than the other types of unit. PICUs primarily cared for service users exhibiting acute behavioural disturbance, first-episode psychosis or psychotic crisis and, compared with the other types of unit, more often used high-dose medication and electroconvulsive therapy.
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