The quality of life of chronically mentally ill patients in acute wards in a district general hospital, a hostel ward and group homes was compared. Within the spectrum of care of these patients, the severity of psychopathology corresponded to their placement. Analysis, including adjustments for the influence of psychopathology, showed differences between the three types of facility. Although differences existed between all types of care, residents in group homes and the hostel ward shared more similarities in quality of life than those in the district general hospital. Problems of caring for the chronically mentally ill on acute wards are highlighted.