Objectives: The demand for places in supported accommodation is likely to rise due to the increasing longevity of people with intellectual disabilities and as their parents become unavailable or unable to care for them. However few attempts have been made to ascertain carer's views on alternative accommodation.
Method: Four studies were undertaken in Northern Ireland to ascertain carer's views using three different methods. In all, 387 carers participated with the response being greatest for individual interviews conducted in the family home and least for self-completed questionnaires and attendance at group meetings.
Results: The majority of carers envisaged the person continuing to be cared for within the family. The most commonly chosen out-of-home provision was in residential or nursing homes, living with support in a house of their own and in homes for small groups of people. Few carers chose living with another family. However only small numbers of carers envisaged alternative provision being needed in the next two years and few had made any plans for alternative living arrangements.
Conclusions: The implications for service planning are noted, primarily the need for individual reviews of future needs through person-centred planning; improved information to carers about various residential options and their differential benefits, along with more services aimed at improving the quality of life of people living with family carers. These need to be underpinned by a commitment of statutory agencies to partnership working with family carers. The implications for mental health services are noted.