Aims – Characteristics of patients living in residential care facilities and the availability of mental hospital- and residential beds in Italy and The Netherlands were compared to assess whether differences in the process of deinstitutionalisation have influenced the composition of their residential patient populations. Methods – Data from the Dutch UTOPIA-study (UTilization & Outcome of Patients In the Association of Dutch residential care providers) and the Italian PROGRES-study were used. Results – Dutch residents were more likely to suffer from substance or alcohol abuse than Italian residents. The latter were more likely to suffer from schizophrenia or a related disorder, less likely to have experienced mental hospital admissions and showed an overall shorter duration of stay in residential care facilities. Contrary to our expectations Dutch residents, who still have good access to long stay beds in mental hospitals, are not less disabled than Italian residents. Finally, the number of beds in residential care facilities per 10,000 inhabitants in the Netherlands is twice (6) as high as in Italy (3). Conclusions – The Italian and Dutch deinstitutionalisation processes have resulted in a different availability in the number of residential beds. However, it did not influence the overall level of functioning of both residential populations.
Declaration of interest: An unconditional grant was received from the Alliance of the 22 Dutch independent residential care providers.