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Asylum Officials: is it necessary or advisable for so many to live on the premises?

  • Frank Asiiby Elkins

Asylum officials may be roughly divided into three groups. In the first group are included artisans and others who are paid weekly wages, have no emoluments, and live in their own homes away from the asylum, whilst in the second and much larger group are included nurses and attendants (estimated by the Commissioners in Lunacy to number in England and Wales more than ten thousand persons), laundrymaids, housemaids, kitchen-folk and others, who, in addition to their monthly paid wages, usually have the emoluments of board and lodging. In the third group are included chief officers and others who are provided with houses, cottages and apartments on the asylum estate. The weekly paid or artisan class are, as a rule, well paid, contented, and of long service. They do not lead a cloistered life, and it is not with them that this article deals. As to the second group, the public now happily recognises the unselfish labours of the large army of workers in direct attendance upon the insane throughout the country, and it is not necessary to enlarge upon their usefulness to the community. Their hours of duty are very long, their pay is not large, and the restrictions and disadvantages under which they work are very great. Probably all asylums have allowed a certain number of these officials to board and lodge off the premises. Some asylums may be more favourably situated than others, and thus have done more in this direction, but the writer thinks that at all asylums more could and should be done towards de-cloistering the staff. In an asylum constructed to meet the circumstances and placed in suitable surroundings, the sane resident population could be reduced to very moderate proportions. It is urged that when the abnormally long and trying hours of duty are over, as many officials as possible should be altogether freed from institutional restraints. The cost of the erection of asylums would be decidedly lessened if they were built to provide accommodation only for (i) the patients, (2) such members of the staff as must of necessity be boarded and lodged on the premises, and (3) such officials as must have houses provided for them on the estate. Has any asylum authority ever prepared an estimate showing the cost of the erection and upkeep of quarters, and of the provision of necessities and conveniences of every description specially made for members of the staff who do not need, for any particular reason, to be provided with lodgings on the asylum estate?

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(1) A paper read at the Annual Meeting, July, 1908. The discussion on this paper was postponed till the Quarterly Meeting in November.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Asylum Officials: is it necessary or advisable for so many to live on the premises?

  • Frank Asiiby Elkins
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