The history of community care for people with learning difficulties in Norfolk 1930-1980 : the role of two hostels

Rolph, Sheena Elizabeth (1999). The history of community care for people with learning difficulties in Norfolk 1930-1980 : the role of two hostels. PhD thesis The Open University.

Abstract

This thesis explores the history of community care for people with learning difficulties in Norfolk between 1930 and 1980 through case studies of two hostels. It also examines ways in which people with learning difficulties can make a contribution to a construction of the past. Historical evidence is drawn from biographical and oral history interviews, group discussions and written and photographic archival sources. These methods make it possible to examine the relationship of the hostels to community and institutional care: make comparisons concerning gender, geographical location and culture; and elicit the views of those who had experienced hostel care either as residents or staff.

The research showed that though there are many conflicting definitions of community carc, the hostels played a significant role in the development of care in the community in the inter-war period and in the post-war period. The. case studies suggest that community care has a longer history than is usually acknowledged. It was not necessarily the benign alternative to institutional care, but existed as an adjunct to it while retaining a distinctive character. In some respects, hostel developments foreshadowed later policies.

The research makes a contribution to the literature on the social history of learning disability; and the methodological literature concerning participatory research.

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