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Keywords:

  • care of the suicidal client;
  • community mental health nursing;
  • crisis resolution;
  • home treatment;
  • hospital admission;
  • national service framework

In response to the NHS Plan, crisis and home treatment teams will be developed across the UK in order to provide intensive home treatment as an alternative to inpatient admission for individuals with severe, acute mental health problems. This study describes aspects of the work of two teams in Hertfordshire. A total of 293 individuals were taken on for intensive home treatment in a 12-month period. A range of social and demographic variables was recorded at the point of initial assessment regarding each individual, as well as two rating scales: the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale and the Scale for Suicide Ideation. Sixty-two individuals (21.1%) required admission to hospital after a median period of home treatment of 11 days. The most frequently recorded reason for admission taking place was ‘risk to self’ (n = 33, 53.2%). Two variables were identified by logistic regression analysis as being predictive of an increased risk of hospitalization: high suicidal ideation at initial assessment (P < 0.01) and previous hospital admission (P < 0.01). Although statistically significant, these variables were only weakly predictive of whether admission would actually take place.