1979 Institutions Legislation and Policy

Announcement Date: 21st August 1979

Institution News

Report of enquiry into Mental Handicap Nursing and Care.

Legislation and Policies

A better Life: Services for the Mentally Handicapped in Scotland.

A Better Life: Services for the Mentally Handicapped in Scotland.[report by a Programme Planning Group of the Scottish Health Service Planning Council and the Advisory Council on Social Work. SHHD/SED Peters Report].Residential provision( both hospital and LA) was revised upwards: to 180/100,000 cf with 138/100,000 for E&W. While the report endorsed the principle of community based care for majority of MH and the need to avoid ‘inappropriate’ admissions to hospital, attitudes towards Community Care within Scottish Office and within health board circles were decidedly ambivalent. An emphasis on hospital care was more likely to be tolerated (even if it was conceded that hospital did not provide the ideal environment) because: the priority was to ensure that everyone was looked after, regardless of the nature of care; it was felt that the community was not yet ready to accept many MH people, and in the meantime hospitals provided a necessary refuge; that in the conditions of the times hospitals could in practice offer MH people a more fulfilled life than an uncaring community, which offers neither the facilities nor the patience; within medical opinion there was a firm belief that for some MH people hospitals did offer the most appropriate environment. “…many severely mentlaly handicapped persons are in need of protection from the community’ the protective secure life of the hospital represents for them a suitable pattern of care ….many mentally handicapped people may be more lonely and more restricted in an uncaring community than in the arguably artificial but at least richer social life enjoyed in hospital ”[para 7.24]. For these reasons and because of limited residential provision, and the need to avoid more people going into hospital, the Report did not envsage ‘any meaningful transfer of existing patients from hospital to residential community care.