This essay I will be discussing various elements from, The Open University (2010) K101 block 2, Unit 7, Understanding the past. I would like to look at the impact that Institutionalisation has had on the residents and care workers within large long stay hospitals. In Block 2 of K101 we have covered a great deal and have met a lot of people, I will introduce some of them in due course. Some were affected by institutionalisation as either long term hospital residents or long term hospital care and nursing staff.
From birth our identities start to form, shaped and moulded by all that surrounds us. Our physicality forms part of our identity and is one that we come into this world with, be it ...view middle of the document...
How many times have we all recognised someone on the radio for example, by just hearing them talk or express views and opinions? It is what makes us unique and sets apart from everybody else. It is communication, whether we can speak or not, we have a voice.
Having a voice or means of communication enables us to speak as ourselves, without the inevitable frustrations of having others misinterpret our meaning or words. Having our own voice is being able to express, impart, imprint one’s own feelings, values and opinions, and having them listened to with valued respect. It helps build our confidence and greatly increases self-esteem. Our voice enables us to share our own life experience and knowledge with others and it gives our lives validity, it helps prove our existence.
So what happens when we are denied our voice?
Howard Mitchell was a nurse at Lennox Castle in East Dunbartonshire for five years from 1975 to 1980. Lennox Castle was a vast development of villas, wards and supporting work buildings that housed patients deemed at the time, to be mentally deficient. Opened in 1936 as a result of the 1913 Mental Deficiency Act (England and Scotland) that had placed the duty on to local education authorities to identify all children with learning disabilities between the ages of seven and sixteen, and on local authorities to provide accommodation for people identified as needing care and support. Howard has since returned to Lennox Castle and carried out some valuable research by both looking at various documents and records and by meeting with former residents and staff from the Institution. Howard has very much concentrated on the importance of oral history and as such has given a voice to two former residents in particular, Margaret Scally and James Lappin, both of whom have spent many years in the institution.
Both Margaret and James gave very specific accounts of their lives at Lennox Castle, this allowed them to be heard, it impacted on me and gave them, and their history validity. It showed me how they existed.
Lennox Castle was very much a total institution as defined by Erving Goffman (1961).
The four main characteristics of which are Batch Living, The Inmate Role, Binary Management and The Institutional Perspective. It was a place very much separated from the rest of society with people living and working on site. Not a totally closed institution as there were visitors and no doubt various comings and goings. It did however have very strict rules and regulations that governed all aspects of people’s lives who lived and worked there, both patients and, but to a lesser extent staff.
Margaret and James were stripped of identity on admittance, along with personal clothing and items. Forced to live and carry out all personal tasks such as bathing, toileting and dressing in the company of a large batch of others. No personal choice was allowed and all clothing was given to them on a daily basis.
Margaret slept in a ward of...