We now turn to the application of our proposed systemic approach to actual planning decisions. As an illustration we shall use the question common in many economically developed countries, that of how to plan the transition from a pattern of services largely dependent upon a traditional mental hospital to one encompassing an array of more local and usually community-based provisions, including inpatient beds. The need to plan this transition is usually based on a mixture of political, social, and clinical reasons, although the local variations on this theme and the pace of change vary a great deal. In fact, this is usually a twofold transition: from a service component to a system approach, and from an institutional to a community orientation.

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