’This is a book for everyone working in health and social care services. It is also a book for the general public and those who are interested in wider social issues.’
Title: Improving Psychiatric care for older people, Barbara Robb’s Campaign 1965-1975
Author: Claire Hilton
Publisher: Springer Palgrave Macmillan
Reviewer: Dr Peter Carter OBE
What was it like?
This is a book that is essential reading for those interested in the history and development of psychiatric and learning disability practice. Although the title refers to the care of older people the book charts the evolvement of care for people with both mental health and LD issues.
The book is a goldmine of references that will provide on-going reading for researchers and students. It is well written with an engaging style. The book is a poignant reminder of the appalling standards in some of our hospitals and institutions well into the middle of the twentieth century. It also highlights how both politicians at the time and those in authority were unable to comprehend just how desperate the care of the mentally ill and those with learning difficulties was in the 1960’s and the struggle to change practice. Many politicians, policy makers, some Medical Royal Colleges and Unions and some staff were complicit in this. I am delighted that the RCN specifically and nurses generally have been cited as supporting the exposure of poor and at times inhumane standards.
What were the highlights?
The story of Barbara Robb is truly inspiring. This is a woman who fought the establishment of the day and had to endure personal insults and set backs. She nevertheless was a major force in exposing the plight of those who should have received more enlightened care. Her legacy has endured and has reached out far beyond the shores of the UK. At last she is receiving the acknowledgement that she richly deserves. I hope this book will prompt others to read Sans Everything Barbara Robb’s book, first published in 1967 . This book set in train a series of changes that has enhanced the care of those with mental health and learning difficulties and changed clinical practice for the better.
Strengths and weaknesses:
There are no obvious weakness. I read the book over two evenings, it is a compelling read.
Who should read it:
This is a book for everyone working in health and social care services. It is also a book for the general public and those who are interested in wider social issues. It highlights the struggle that women historically have had to be heard, together with a poignant reminder of how poor care (however unintentional) may prevail when resources are stretched and leadership is misguided. It is also a reminder to those in authority, be they politicians or senior managers to take seriously the concerns of service users and staff. Earlier this year I reviewed Rachel Clark’s book Your life in my hands. These two books should be recommended reading for all those studying in the caring professions be they nurses, doctors or other disciplines. Claire Hilton is a recently retired psychiatrist who along with Rachel Clarke has brought into sharp relief the struggles that we still have in what I still believe is a health service to be proud of albeit one under huge strain.
improving psychiatric care