A history of the training of asylum nurses



The national training scheme for asylum attendants, devised in the late 19th century, did not arise ex nihilo Several philanthropic and imaginative madhouse keepers of the previous century had understood the link between successful treatment of lunatics and the quality of staff who cared for them They had therefore aimed to recruit a ‘good class’ of person to work in their institutions, and to create an environment which would tend towards the civilization of the patients A few even entertained the notion that training attendants would enhance their ability to understand and care for those in their charge Training received increasing attention in both medical and political circles throughout the 19th century until a national scheme was inaugurated in 1891 The scheme achieved only a modest success in that, while it drew upon the undoubted enthusiasm of those who trained under it, it did not enhance the attendants’ career opportunities or their pay once they had qualified Training as a means of solving management problems was doomed to failure, and widespread dissatisfaction amongst asylum nurses erupted during the 1920s, only 30 years after the scheme had started