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Assistance and resistance: making sense of inter-war caring

Pam Dale

This paper looks at care inside and outside of institutions. Patients and their families are important. What sort of care did they want? What sort of care did they get?

Starcross had been a special school. Later on it had adults and children. The institution changed as it got bigger. We need to look at community care as well as institutions. There was some choice. People could shape their own care. Social workers could help patients and families.

Home care was difficult. Some people with learning difficulties wanted to go to school and find work. Only institutional care was on offer. In the institution it was hard to keep in touch with family and friends.

The institution was not all bad. In the institution there were some choices. Some patients did well. They went on holiday and had jobs. People wanted more choices about where they lived and what they did. Some patients escaped.

There were good ways out of the institution. Friends and relatives outside could help patients find somewhere to live and a job. Many patients lived happily in the community. They had lots of help.

The words used to describe patients were wrong but nobody was able to change them.

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Liz Tilley 
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
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