PURPOSE: England and Italy are considered pioneers in the development of community mental health services. Both have implemented supported accommodation services for those with more complex needs, which can be broadly categorized into three main types with similar specification. The aim of this study was to compare the characteristics of these services and their users in England and Italy. METHODS: Data from two cross-sectional surveys of supported accommodation services undertaken across England and in Verona, Italy (England-619 service users from 87 services; Verona-167 service users from 25 services) were compared. RESULTS: Service users in the two samples had similar socio-demographic and clinical characteristics; most were male, unmarried and unemployed, with a primary diagnosis of schizophrenia or other psychosis and over 15 years contact with mental health services. Supported accommodation occupancy was high in both samples. The actual length of stay was greater than the expected length of stay for all three service types but overall turnover was similar between countries (p = 0.070). Across services, total needs and quality of life were higher for Italian compared to English service users (p < 0.001 for both) but, unmet needs were lower amongst English service users (p < 0.001). Around 40% in both samples moved to more independent accommodation successfully within 30 months. CONCLUSIONS: England and Italy have similar mental health supported accommodation pathways to assist those with more complex needs to gain skills for community living, but individuals tend to require longer than expected at each stage.
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