Most patients came to Exe Vale from private addresses and were again discharged to private addresses on leaving hospital. Many went to live with a relative before returning to their own home again. There were also other, more lethal and more complicated ways of departing from the institution in these years, including transfers to other Devon mental hospitals, general hospitals, to elderly persons’ homes or what was later called sheltered housing and care institutions, or hostels. Few patients were transferred to mental hospitals outside the County.
The other most common way to depart the mental hospital was after death and about a fifth of discharges were people who died in hospital. The cause of death is known for the great majority of these and shows the shift towards the elderly. Patients who expired in Exe Vale largely died of pulmonary or heart diseases. Most patients suffered from more than one illness before their decease: a fairly frequent secondary cause of death was cardiovascular degeneration, followed by arteriosclerosis and hypertension. In many cases, a combination of heart disease and pulmonary illness was given as the cause of death.