Home visits: a reflection on family contact in a specialist forensic intellectual disability service

Luncinda Cheshire, Verity Chester, Alex Graham, Jackie Grace, Regi Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose – There is little published literature about the number of home visits provided to patients within forensic intellectual disability units, and there is no published data on variables that affect home visits. There is a need for a baseline audit that can formulate standards for future practice. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach – This paper describes the home visit programme within a forensic intellectual disability service, and a baseline audit of the programme. The audit measured the number of home visits, any factors that adversely affect home visits, and the extent of family contact. The authors propose audit standards for evaluation of good practice in this area.

Findings – The audit involved 63 patients over a one-year period. In total, 81 per cent of patients had some form of family contact and 54 per cent of patients at least one home visit. However, 19 per cent of patients had no contact with their family due to a variety of reasons. There were no significant differences in the number of home visits between men and women, patients on civil vs criminal sections or those treated “within area” or “out of area”. Patients in rehabilitation wards had significantly more visits than those in low or medium secure.

Originality/value – Conventional wisdom is that reduced family contact is the direct result of patients being placed “out of area”. The results of this audit suggest that, at least in this group, the reasons may be much more nuanced and that the current definition of “out of area” has to be improved to incorporate the actual distance between the patient’s current family home and the service. Audit standards have been proposed to monitor family contact and home visits. Future work should focus on the relationship between family contact and treatment outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-195
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Learning disability
  • Social work
  • Social support
  • Secure
  • Forensic
  • Family contact

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