Care and Treatment of the Mentally Ill in North Wales

By Pamela Michael.
University of Wales Press
ISBN 0 7083 1740 5   

This book shows the development of care and treatment of
mentally ill people over two centuries at one institution in North

Denbigh Hospital was the first to invest in staff training to
provide high care, strict discipline and careful financial
management, and to understand the importance of staff being able to
speak to patients in Welsh and to make this a requirement of
appointment. Continuity of care from outpatient to aftercare
resulted in the first psychiatric social worker being employed in

Detailed observations from many sources illustrate the social
and cultural context in which care was provided and how it changed
over time.

An example of tension between treatment and containment for
patients is illustrated by staff (or attendants) being at one time
completely responsible for the actions of the patients, and, if
they escaped through negligence, had to pay for their recapture
from their wages.

This book, though, is more than a historical account of the
hospital. It explores social and political life outside and how it
affected the numbers of patients receiving care, from its height in
1956 with 1,523 residents to the falling numbers in the 1960s
following reform, and closure.

Susan Ashworth is an approved social worker and practice
assessor, Wiltshire County Council.

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