What Does the Story of Lennox Castle Hospital and What Has Replaced It Tell Us About How Care and Support for People with Learning Difficulties Has Changed Since the 1930s When It Was Founded and Today?

Title: What does the story of Lennox Castle hospital and what has replaced it tell us about how care and support for people with learning difficulties has changed since the 1930s when it was founded and today?

Lennox Castle hospital was established in 1936 and it closed it’s doors after 66 years in 2002 (DVD, Video 7.1). This hospital’s purpose was to provide care for people with “mental deficiency”, one of the terms used to describe the people who resided at Lennox Castle during its earlier years of existence (Mitchell, 2008, p.38); today those individuals would be referred to as people with learning difficulties. Lennox Castle is an example of what was put in place for those with learning difficulties in the 1930s, a “total institution” (Jones and Fowles, 2008, pp.103-6). At Lennox Castle those individuals that resided there not only slept there, in dormitory style wards, but worked there, took part in leisure activities located within the large complex of buildings, did not leave the hospital grounds and transgression of the many rules was punished through removal of privileges or giving of additional labour duties (DVD, Video 7.3).   Lennox Castle was founded during a time when it was felt that there was a responsibility to accommodate and supervise those with learning difficulties, ensuring that wider society was not harmed by their presence and participation in the community (DVD, Resource File).   Lennox Castle and the other large hospitals of its kind, have now closed down, in its place is care based in the community which aims to meet the needs of each individual, allowing them choice and control and an active position in society (Walmsley, 2008, p.234). Over the course of more than half a century it appears that a substantial transition has taken place.  

Life in a ‘total institution’ such as Lennox Castle has been said by Erving Goffman to have involved four key characteristics. The first of these is ‘batch living’, which is defined as a group of...