Further to Lee Whitehead's response (Letters, 15 January) to Michael Howlett (Letters, 27 November), I endorse the view that the 'care continuum' of supported housing should be available in every locality. I also suggest that today's solution is tomorrow's problem: once the housing needs of people suffering mental ill health have been satisfied, other needs will surface. People will have more need for training/employment services, general day services, drop-ins and support groups at evening and weekends, leisure opportunities, advice and advocacy services, etc. And as more people receive services in the community, an increased responsibility is placed on carers and befrienders, whose efforts must be encouraged and supported.
The challenge is to develop comprehensive complementary community-based services, while maintaining an adequate number of all types of secure and non-secure inpatient beds long enough for a comprehensive needs analysis to be undertaken.
In short, we need double-running of adequate community care and inpatient care services. This requires extra 'transitional finance' to facilitate an effective and safe move to true community care. This is the challenge that must be met everywhere, not just in isolated areas of enlightenment with special funding deals.
Divisional director for development (Northern region),
National Schizophrenia Fellowship.