I predict that many disabled children in the UK will end up in all-ages nursing facilities. This will be like going back in time to the whitewashed wall of Bedlam, which looked good on the outside, but inside it was a living hell.

It was a place for all sorts, a prison for those that posed a threat to the social order, the ‘sick, aged, bedridden, diseased, travellers, disabled soldiers, the poor,the homeless, young and old.

A description of Britsh values of this time is found in the Report From The Committee On Madhouses In England, 1815 AD, Testimony of A. Mr. E. Wakefield: “Have you visited Bethlem? I have, frequently; I first visited Bethlem on the 25th of April 1814. What observations did you make? At this first visit, attended by the steward of the Hospital and likewise by a female keeper, we first proceeded to visit the women’s galleries: one of the side rooms contained about ten patients, each chained by one arm or leg to the wall; the chain allowing them merely to stand up by the bench or form fixed to the wall, or to sit down on it. The nakedness of each patient was covered by a blanket-gown only; the blanket-gown is a blanket formed something like a dressing-gown, with nothing to fasten it with in front; this constitutes the whole covering; the feet even were naked. One female in this side room, thus chained, was an object remarkably striking; she mentioned her maiden and married names, and stated that she had been a teacher of languages; the keepers described her as a very accomplished lady, mistress of many languages, and corroborated her account of herself. The Committee can hardly imagine a human being in a more degraded and brutalizing situation than that in which I found this female, who held a coherent conversation with us, and was of course fully sensible of the mental and bodily condition of those wretched beings, who, equally without clothing, were closely chained to the same wall with herself. … Many of these unfortunate women were locked up in their cells, naked and chained on straw, with only one blanket for a covering.”


Whilst looking at some of the bed-lying patients, a man arose naked from his bed, and had deliberately and quietly walked a few paces from his cell door along the gallery; he was instantly seized by the keepers, thrown into his bed, and leg-locked, without enquiry or observation: chains are universally substituted for the strait-waistcoat. In the men’s wing were about 75 or 76 patients, with two keepers and an assistant, and about the same number of patients on the women’s side; the patients were in no way distinguished from each other as to disease, than as those who are not walking about or chained in the side rooms, were lying stark naked upon straw on their bedsteads, each in a separate cell, with a single blanket or rug, in which the patient usually lay huddled up, as if impatient of cold, and generally chained to the bed-place in the shape of a trough; about one-fifth were in this state, or chained in the side rooms.”


Of course, such an extreme example of cruelty, and the miserly resources devoted to the weak and helpless, is not repeated in the Nirvana which is America, and theexperience of Bedlam has little relevance to ‘Florida’s apparent inclination to herd helpless kids into geriatric nursing’ homes (which) ‘is not only a violation of federal law, but also leads to the unnecessary ruin of families and can be an impediment to developmental progress. … “From my perspective, what they’re doing is almost like a legalized genocide,” said Leslie Conway of Plant City. “They look at my son and say, ‘He’s of no value or worth to us, therefore we’re not going to spend a lot of time or money helping him'(www.tampabay.com, September, 2012)

This report highlights: Parents are made to appear before medical panels every six months to justify the need for nurses, medical supplies or life-saving prescriptions.

More and more, they say in-home nursing care is being eliminated. That forces parents to make a chilling decision: either quit their jobs and devote their entire lives to being amateur caregivers, or institutionalize their child.

Conway’s son Josiah was born with Down syndrome and a faulty heart. Complications from heart surgery at 8 months old severely impacted airways in his throat, and he is in constant danger of asphyxiation. Frantic calls to 911 to report Josiah was unable to breathe soon became part of the family routine.

When her son was 7, Conway says, the state notified the family that his in-home care, which had gradually been cut, was going to be eliminated. Pleading her case before a review board, she produced documents from physicians detailing Josiah’s very specific needs.

She said she was told her son’s diagnosis was irrelevant.

The Conways sued, and now get 19 to 22 hours of nursing care a day. Still, they are up for review every six months to justify funds for his unchanging outlook.



The private inurance Nirvana of American capitalism won’t often cover the cost of medical equipment, and in-home nursing and therapy. This leaves many families with only one choice, nursing home care.

“We’re seeing a huge decline in social services in Florida, and we have been for some time,” said Tampa lawyer Peter J. Brudny, who represents a mother whose daughter died shortly after being moved to an all-ages nursing facility.

“More and more children are being warehoused in these geriatric facilities, and it’s a crime. They stay there and just linger in beds with no interaction, no toys, no opportunity to be around other children”.


It is also true that these children are not naked and chained on straw. 75 or 76 of them are not ‘looked after’ by two keepers and an assistant. They do not lay next to disabled soldiers, the poor,the homeless, the mentally unwell. If they wander they are not instantly seized by the keepers, thrown on a bed, and leg-locked.

They, however, share something with the victims of Bedlam. This ‘something’ is very important. In the words of Leslie Conway: “They look at my son and say, ‘He’s of no value or worth to us, therefore we’re not going to spend a lot of time or money helping him”.


And if you are in some dream-world that the modern persecutors of the weak and disabled have a fundamentally different mindset to those that operated Bedlam, or think differently about ‘managing scarce resources’, then the incarceration of disabled children in all-ages nursing facilities will never happen in the UK.

All sing ‘Jerusalem’.

After all, we never copy anything from America, do we?
lenin nightingale 2015