Adult placements in England: A synthesis of the literature

By Barry Fiedler

Published October 2005

As the first stage of the person-centred approaches and adult placement project, a synthesis of findings from selected literature about adult placement was commissioned by SCIE in August 2004. The project also included a practice survey and an analytical report comparing the results of the synthesis and the survey. Key messages

Little qualitative or quantitative research exists about adult placements. Much of the material relates to concerns from the sector about the regulation of services and the development of the current regulatory system. Other sources – mainly journal articles – describe individual placements or schemes and/or offer anecdotal evidence of the value of adult placement. Only a few studies explore the quality of adult placement services or the perspective and experiences of the people who use them. Overall, the literature asks more questions than it answers.

Within and outside the UK, there is a perception that adult placement is uniquely enabling, user-focused, valuable, and cost effective. There is little research-based evidence, however, to support these claims. Anecdotal evidence and several research projects have studied service users’ experiences of and satisfaction with adult placements. Overall, adult placements are considered an excellent example of person-centred community care.


Adult placements are not a new idea. For centuries, vulnerable people have been cared for by people other than their family in their homes. But it wasn't until the 1970s and early 1980s 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. Despite the growing popularity of adult placements, there is very little formal research about it.


This report aims set out distil the key literature on adult placement, looking at:

The report assists in the development of other SCIE work about adult placements.


This report is intended for use by SCIE in its research and guidance and other organisations with an interest in adult placements. The report will also be of interest to local authority and health commissioners, practitioners, service users, adult placement scheme staff and carers in England.


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