• Close to it all 25 July 2018 | View comments

  • 25th July 2018 | By David Jolley

    Professor Dawn Brooker has been kind enough to organise an occasional series of lectures at Worcester University in my name over recent years. Lectures have been delivered by Alistair Burns, John Killick, Barbara Poynton, David Challis and Cathy Greenblatt – all addressing topics for which they are recognised as international experts. This week’s lecturer was my friend and colleague Dr Claire Hilton who introduced the assembly to the story of Barbara Robb – A story I have referred to in these blogs previously because it is so wonderfully brought to light by Claire’s PhD and recently published book www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783319548128 and because Barbara Robb’s work was conducted in association with heroes of my personal journey – Drs Russell Barton and Tony Whitehead. 

    Making full use of the trip to Worcester, Claire had visited the site of Powick Hospital during the morning. Powick was celebrated for its innovations in care https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powick_Hospital and played a big part in sharing with a bewildered and unbelieving wider world, the conditions in which patients lived out their lives www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzjeBaBFWqw


    I found myself reflecting on the smaller St Wulstan’s Hospital https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=1977-03-23a.1419.0 whose medical Superintendent Dr Morgan came to Manchester to describe his work amongst patients with long-term mental disorders who had spent many years in hospital. Like Eugen Bleuler, who had described his life to an audience at the Maudsley Hospital, he lived as part of the community which was the hospital and grew close to the resident patients and their families, gaining a special understanding and empathy for their condition and circumstances. Dr Morgan and his nursing colleague A.J Cheadle wrote a series of papers describing their work and its successes by enlightened use of work and other engaging activities in unlocking people’s potential from the grip of psychosis and institutionalisation https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/156d/c207f430b401071e5ba69a5786811ec6c9f9.pdf

    I had seen and been impressed by similar approaches at Severalls Hospital with Russell Barton, and later by Cheadle Royal Industries and Don Early in Bristol. The good news of St Wulstan’s was set aside in the surge to close mental hospitals. On balance this has to have been right, but the loss of identification of and with people with severe long-term illnesses and investment in therapeutic sheltered work is a source of shame which should be recognised and acted on.

    Like me, dawn began her career in mental hospitals and has contributed to the changes which have drawn a wider and richer community of professional to work with people with dementia and other mental disorders. It was lovely to see and hear her talk with such enthusiasm of the project to encourage the development and support of meeting centres www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13607863.2016.1258540 something which I would like to do in Trafford and Greater Manchester. Wonderful too has been the insights by which teaching about dementia in schools can lead to understanding amongst parents and other members of family http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar_url?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.worc.ac.uk%2Fdocuments%2FSchools_Evaluation_Final_Report.pdf&hl=en&sa=T&oi=ggp&ct=res&cd=3&d=972939890011961971&ei=hTNUW9m2LYOImgHtwKb4DQ&scisig=AAGBfm2cQbdh_-0fcWu-fidv7o295PLO8Q&nossl=1&ws=1280x899

    A week about and with people who care and are close to their work. This is the power which delivers.

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