The prime duty of specialist mental health services is to provide effective care to often non-compliant and unstable severely mentally ill (SMI) patients. Society expects such care to be humane and effective, but also demands that the severely ill are closely supervised to minimise risk to the public. Sadly, specialist services all too often fail on both counts. In part, this is due to the sheer complexity of care that is needed, going far beyond purely medical or therapeutic interventions. SMI patients have profound difficulties accessing and using everyday services and opportunities. Negative symptoms of apathy, self-neglect and low motivation, coupled with irrational beliefs and compounded by inadequately resourced and tightly rationed provision of social care, require mental health care services to be constantly active across areas of both medical and social provision. Services that ignore the importance of long-term, integrated care do so at their peril. A steady stream of disasters has been blamed on a lack of communication and coordination between agencies (Spokes, 1988; Ritchie et al, 1994), and follow-up studies of SMI patients managed by traditional hospital out-patient services repeatedly note a mismatch between levels of need and service uptake, with the least needy consuming the greater amount of service (Goering et al, 1984; Melzer et al, 1991).