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July 7, 1956


JAMA. 1956;161(10):940-944. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02970100006003

• The transfer of a psychiatric patient from a locked ward to an open ward should be thought of as the first step back to community living. A number of methods have been devised to bridge the gap from hospital to community and to make the transition easier for the patient. A second step is the trial visit or convalescent leave while the patient lives outside the hospital, either in his own home or independently in the community. An alternative, called family care, is the placing of mental patients in homes other than their own. Data on the results of thousands of such placements are now available.

Other possibilities are arrangements whereby the patient lives at home but comes to the hospital for day care, works outside during the day and comes to the hospital for housing and treatment the rest of the time, lives temporarily at a "halfway house" while reestablishing himself in community life, or gains occupational experience in a sheltered workshop.

Each plan fits only certain patients, and all of these plans are successful only to the degree that a community accepts them. Physicians, by individual leadership and through medical society action, can help by educating the public about the needs of the mentally ill.