Domestic or Institutional Options

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Historic care in the community was not a substitute for something better, but a conscious choice tailored to social and economic realities, and cultural preferences.  The enduring preference for out-relief in a familial home is shown by the proportion of the mentally disabled housed in asylums in early twentieth century Scotland – it was half of that in England. Instead, Victorian and Edwardian Scots preferred family care or boarding-out. An example is the extensive lodging of the chronically insane and the feeble-minded in the private houses of farmers in the countryside around Glasgow, and on the Isle of Arran.  This emphasis on non-institutional care is important because it shows enduring cultural differences in approaches to care across regions of Britain. The Welsh too favoured boarding out on farms. Large-scale institutionalization did not begin in Wales until the early twentieth century. By contrast, intra-mural care was more prevalent in England and far more so in Ireland.

Image of the week: insane woman drawn by Charles Darwin, 1872
Full Bibliographic Record: Wellcome Library Catalogue L0049513
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

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