Four hundred "new" long-stay patients were studied and assessments of their needs for treatment and accommodation were made. About one third appeared to need further care in hospital. A further third could possibly be discharged if suitable accommodation in the community were available: most of this group were more handicapped than present residents in hostels. The remaining third had diverse needs; many were multiply handicapped--for example, by physical disability or mental retardation in addition to psychiatric disorder. At the moment the psychiatric hospital is virtually the only agency to accept the care of such people.