[Social psychiatric service as a cornerstone of psychiatric community care].Offentl Gesundheitswes. 1991 Dec; 53 Suppl 3:254-9.OG
Psychiatric care has gradually been shifting in Germany from its original inpatient basis to outpatient and complementary treatment. This shift of emphasis resulted in a transfer of psychiatry-political responsibility to communal bodies and hence also to communal public health services. Sociopsychiatric service ranks high in communal psychiatric care setups, since it promotes cooperation and helps to coordinate efforts in individual cases in respect of focal points on which such care is centered. For the future, an expert commission has suggested that the various institutions actively engaged in community psychiatric care should team up in each region. This applies in particular to mobile services visiting the patients in their homes, and to the offices providing contracts to sociopsychiatric services of public health offices. Despite positive outlooks there are also quite a few negative aspects of present-day practice. One of them is poor definition of tasks and functions of communal sociopsychiatric services, whereas another one are the unsatisfactory quantitative and qualitative means at their disposal. It is also too often overlooked that psychiatric patients and disabled persons are entitled to compensation insurance payments to promote their rehabilitation, as provided for by individual legislation in the various German laender. To tap these sources sufficiently well, sociopsychiatric services must be better equipped in every respect. The professional competence of social workers and physicians, as well as of the relevant staff, must be safeguarded by continuing education and specialist training measures.