Following reunification in Germany in 1990 the new states in the Federal Republic faced the task of restructuring and rebuilding the structures of complementary care for the chronically mentally ill. First and foremost, residential facilities had to be established that would correspond to and meet the currently high need for de-hospitalization by making different types of care and care concepts available. Five groups of patients with chronic schizophrenic psychoses (N = 245 patients) who live in different types of psychiatric care facilities (psychiatric nursing home, social therapeutic hostel, sheltered community residence) or at home, either with or without a family network, were studied. In addition to the sociodemographic data, the psychopathology and the extent of social disabilities were also surveyed, as well as data on the living situation and the subjective quality of life with an emphasis on ‘social relationships’, ‘recreation/leisure activities’, and ‘general independence’.
The five groups differed with regard to various sociodemographic and disorder-related variables, particularly with regard to the extent of social disabilities. Especially relevant, however, are the differences among the patient groups in the extent of daily social life and recreational/leisure activities that are partially reflected in their statements on the subjective quality of life. Primarily for the two groups of home residents, but also in part for the patients living in sheltered community care, social contacts are more or less limited to the residential situation and patients are more or less otherwise socially isolated. This is due among other things to the fact that patients who have been hospitalized for long periods do not as a rule return to their prior area of residence; thus, the available compensatory mediation of relationships with the social environment does not suffice. Demands for the further development of complementary systems of psychiatric care derive from these findings.