Years ago, when I was in between jobs, I temped at “Brookwood hospital” , a mental institution in Woking. It closed in 1994 and has since been turned into flats, luxury flats no doubt. I presume the patients went into “care in the community”.
I spent a month there, working as secretary to the Catering Manager. What I remember most about it was the smell – disinfectant, coupled with an underlying smell of urine.
I didn’t see the patients much but I do remember walking down a corridor with them, not feeling scared, just wondering why they were there and where their families were and how often they visited.
The Channel 4 documentary “the Queen’s Hidden Cousins” also reminded me of my temping experience. I never saw anyone being mis-treated but there was always a lot of screaming and shouting. I now know that screaming could have meant a variety of emotions being conveyed.
I have thought more and more about that “hospital” recently, I’m glad that our disabled and special needs children have been brought up in a more “civilised” society but then again, the increase in disability hate crimes – especially as a result of the propaganda in the media regarding benefit scroungers – makes me wish for a secure future for all our children. It does make me very glad that D was not born in my grandparents era.