This pan-Europe project aims to contribute to the improvement of conditions in institutions for people with mental ill health or mental disability. ITHACA will gather information about the factors necessary to create and successfully implement policy to promote human rights, dignity and general health of residents in institutions. This information will be based on the best available evidence and experience. It will pilot a method of assessing best practice in relations to human rights and dignity and general health which is suitable for use across the European Union and set up a network of 15 sites committed to improving the quality of care in mental institutions. The assessments can be used to ensure practice within institutions is brought up to minimally acceptable levels.