Adult placements and person-centred approaches

SCIE Guide 8

Published September 2005

About this guide


Adult placements are not a new idea. For centuries, vulnerable people haven been cared for by people other than their family in their homes. But it wasn't until the 1970s and early 1980s however, that adult placement schemes, as an organised service, really took off in the UK.

Adult placements are a highly flexible form of accommodation and person-centred support for many people including people with learning disabilities, older people and people with mental health problems.

There are around 130 adult placement schemes in England supporting around 5,000 carers and 6,500 service users. However, despite the growing popularity of adult placements, there is very little formal research about it. This guide draws primarily on practitioner, user and organisational knowledge. In particular it draws on a comprehensive practice survey (191kb PDF file) of four adult placement schemes.


The guide has been developed to inform future guidance for local authority commissioners. It identifies relevant national minimum standards and highlights findings and case examples from the practice survey, as well as from the literature where available.

The guide contains practice points, including areas of conflict, ongoing debate about roles and responsibilities, and the application of person-centred approaches to adult placements.

The guide is specific to England, as regulations in Wales and Northern Ireland are different. However, it may have relevance for future service development in all countries of the UK.


The guide is aimed at local authority and health commissioners, practitioners, service users, adult placement scheme staff and carers in England.

Using this guide

The SCIE website is divided into three columns: the left, middle and right columns. The topics that are covered in this guide are listed in the left hand column. Click on these to access the topics.

Within each topic there are several pages of information, which you can skip to using the navigation in the middle column. All of the links are in blue. The right hand column also has links in the lozenges, either to a PDF of the guide so that you can print it out or to other relevant information. The links may also repeat those listed in the middle column just so you don't miss anything!

Your feedback

SCIE welcomes comments on any aspect of the guide, which will inform future updates. We are also very interested in collecting examples of good practice. Please send us your feedback.


Our thanks go to Barrie Fiedler and Sian Lockwood for their support in the development of this guide. Additionally, we would like to thank all of those who contributed to the practice survey.


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Available downloads:

  • Adult placements and person-centred approaches