What is In-patient vs Out-patient Care?


Mental healthcare can take many forms and be delivered in different settings.  Some patients may make sufficient progress by attending a weekly or monthly...

Mental healthcare can take many forms and be delivered in different settings.  Some patients may make sufficient progress by attending a weekly or monthly appointment with their psychologist.  Other patients may need 24/7 care by a team of nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists in order to ensure their safety and to make rapid progress with their mental health condition.

The decision as to the most appropriate type of care will be dependent on several factors.  These include the severity of the mental health condition, how quickly the patient wishes to make progress and the type of treatment that is appropriate for the condition.  These decisions are always taken by the psychiatrist and the patient together.  At Cardinal Clinic, it is a fundamental principle that the patient’s view of how they experience care from us is critical.

The following article explains the difference between in-patient and out-patient care and compares them to aid when deciding what is most appropriate for you, a family member or friend.

What is In-Patient Care?

In-patient care refers to a programme of treatment where the patient stays with us on a residential basis and receives care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Typically, patients stay with us for between two and four weeks although shorter and longer durations are also not unusual.

Each patient receives care from a team of nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists.  This is often the best choice for patients with acute mental health conditions or for those patients who will make better progress away from their normal routines.  It also provides an excellent opportunity to make rapid progress with recovery.  A single day of in-patient care can have a similar level of input to six months of out-patient care.

In-patient treatment at Cardinal Clinic

Prior to being admitted, every patient is assessed by one of our psychiatrists.  This provides an opportunity for us to understand more about the patient’s mental health condition and to discuss treatment options with them.  If the patient and the psychiatrist believe that an in-patient admission is the most appropriate, an admission date will be agreed.  This may be on the day of the assessment or a number of days in the future.

When the patient comes in for admission, they will be allocated to a nurse team who will co-ordinate their care. The nursing team are available at any time to discuss any concerns or problems and will treat everything the patient says in complete confidence. The patient will stay in one of our 23 En-suite bedrooms and will have one to one consultation as well as take part in group therapeutic programmes.

Meals are also provided in the patients’ dining room. There is a choice of menu, and the chefs are happy to cater for dietary requirements.

Outside of the programme, there is also time for relaxation. Some of our facilities include a heated indoor swimming pool, patients lounge and extensive gardens. Visitors are welcome on the weekends which can be arranged with the nursing team.

 Cardinal Clinic patient and therapist potting plants in the greenhouse

Discharge planning is a key part of the in-patient stay.  We start working towards this from the beginning of the treatment.  The date of discharge is discussed between the psychiatrist and the patient and a target date is agreed. An individually tailored discharge plan will be devised with the patients input, this may mean attending the Clinic as a day or out-patient so that there is a smooth transition when they leave us.

Benefits of in-patient service:

  • Can help the patient by removing them from a home environment that is contributing to their mental health condition
  • Provides a safe environment where a patient is looked after by mental health professionals
  • Allows recovery without the temptations and challenges of daily life
  • Can help create a solid foundation to help overcome any mental health conditions, ensuring that coping strategies are well embedded and the condition is understood
  • Offers 24/7 support for patients who require the most intensive treatment.
  • Although expensive, in-patient care will often allow a more rapid recovery and return to work.  This may make the overall cost of poor mental health much lower in the long term.

How do I arrange In-Patient care?

Most of our patients who are admitted for in-patient care are referred to Cardinal Clinic by their GP or other healthcare professional.  However, it is also possible to refer yourself.  For programmes such as our Alcohol Detox programme, it is normal for patients to request admission themselves.

If you feel that our in-patient service would be of benefit, please take a look at our page about getting a referral from your GP:  Arranging a GP Referral Alternatively, you may wish to consider referring yourself:  Arranging a Self-Referral.

What is Out-Patient Care?

Out-patient care (or community-based care) is a type of care where the patient remains living at home and only attends Cardinal Clinic for specific periods of treatment.  This may be as little as a monthly, 30-minute consultation in one of our out-patient clinics.  Alternatively, it may involve attendance at our day hospital for one or more days per week.

Like our in-patient programme, both group therapy and one-to-one consultations are available.  Our one-to-one consultations may take place face-to-face or over a virtual consultation.  This ensures that we can adapt our care to whatever works best for your lifestyle.

The out-patient service is appropriate for patients who require a lower level of support than our in-patients or day care patients.  Out-patients may see a clinician as often as weekly, or as infrequently as every three months.

Out-patient treatment at Cardinal Clinic

Cardinal Clinic has more than 50 clinicians working at the Clinic delivering out-patient care.  This means we can ensure that the patients care is managed by someone with the skills and experience necessary for the specific condition the patient is experiencing.

We provide out-patient services to both adults and children.  Our CAMHS unit sees children and adolescent patients up to the age of 18 in a dedicated building.  This is kept separate from the adult in-patients and out-patient facilities.

Initially, most patients are seen by a psychiatrist who will oversee the care of the patient and be clinically responsible.  They may prescribe medication or talking therapies as part of the care plan.  Where talking therapies are recommended, the psychiatrist will refer the patient to the psychologist or psychotherapist who will be best placed to provide the required support.  It is common for a patient to continue seeing a therapist and the psychiatrist for the duration of their treatment.

Benefits of out-patient service:

  • Typically, less costly
  • Appointments can be available for evenings and weekends which is good for the patient if they have a busy schedule
  • Consultations can be delivered face-to-face or delivered virtually. This provides flexibility and ensures that you can accommodate your care around other commitments.
  • Patients receiving out-patient care can fulfil their duties in their employment, relationships, and family life

How do I arrange an out-patient consultation?

Many referrals are received directly from a patient’s GP.  We also accept referrals from company occupational health departments or company doctors, where a patient is referred under an employee assistance programme.

Please click the link below for full details regarding referrals:

Arranging a Consultation

We can also accept patients who refer themselves for treatment.  We understand the difficultly that some patients have in getting an appointment with an NHS GP and we feel it is important that we can react quickly to all patients who need our support.  However, we would normally expect to liaise closely with a patient’s GP to ensure they are aware of any treatment or care a patient is undergoing.  We may also require information from a patient’s GP regarding the medical history.  This is to ensure we can manage patient care safely and effectively.

It is important to be aware that we may not be able to provide treatment if a patient refuses to allow us to contact their GP.

In-patient vs Out-patient: What to consider when deciding

  • Severity of your mental health condition
  • Finances
  • Responsibilities/ daily duties
  • Health insurance coverage
  • Geographical access to the programme
  • Medical needs
  • Re-occurring conditions

For more information about our in-patient and out-patient services, visit our website. If you feel like you need professional help, we are a private mental health hospital in Windsor with nurses on hand 24 hours a day who provide expert clinical treatment. Research has found that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England and we are here to ensure you do not have to face it alone. For more information visit cardinalclinic.co.uk or call 01753 869755 for help and advice.

1 in 4 people in England need mental health support*

We’re here to ensure you do not have to face it alone.

If you feel like you need professional help, we’re a private mental health hospital in Windsor with nurses on hand 24 hours a day who provide expert clinical treatment.

You can call Cardinal Clinic on 01753 869755 for confidential help and advice or send us an enquiry.

*McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey.

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