What were the wards like at that time?
The wards were very traditional still. Huge numbers of people, you know, 70, 80 on some of the bigger wards, you know with the beds in the dormitories with that much space between them, 18 inches or whatever. Run very efficiently, those large wards with large numbers of people. They were run very efficiently, but, inhumanely is maybe a bit too strong but, they had to be organised in a very military way, as you’ve described for Brockhall because there were so many people and so few staff. The staff didn’t do much of the looking after, it was always the ‘high grades’ that did most of the donkey work, looking after the more severely learning disabled folk. In amongst that, there were some bright corners, you know, where people had new ideas about trying to do things differently.
So what are the examples of that at that time?
Well it’s sort of, trying to look after people in smaller groups, we used to call it group management. So, you couldn’t do it on a ward of 80 people but on some of the smaller wards where there was maybe 40 or 50, you know, you’d try and re-arrange the ward so that people had their own, maybe 10 or a dozen people had their own living area and sleeping area if that was possible. Just to make it a bit more homely, a bit more less institutionalised, so there were little pockets of places, and I took those ideas that I’d picked up on to the first ward that I managed, which was a children’s ward.