Health History Lecture: “We can do this but we need to do it our way”: Oral History Accounts of Deinstitutionalization in New Zealand

Please join the Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry for the next lecture in our Health History Lecture Series. With co-sponser The UBC School of Nursing Critical Research in Health and Healthcare Inequities Unit, we are pleased to welcome Dr. Kate Prebble as our next speaker and visiting scholar. On June 3, 2015, she will present her work entitled: “‘We can do this but we need to do it our way’: Oral history accounts of setting up a forensic psychiatric service in Auckland, New Zealand in the 1980s and 1990s – Creating an institution in the context of deinstitutionalisation?”

Abstract: This presentation explores the development of forensic psychiatric services in Auckland, New Zealand in the late 1980s and 1990s. The story is based on oral histories undertaken with twenty-one participants who helped create the service. They told of an innovative service, shaped by driven, motivated people, following some inspiring leadership. The background for this innovation and change was the chaos and struggles of the mental health hospital Oakley/Carrington, wider political wrangles over whether responsibility for forensic patients lay with the Departments of Justice or Health, and the driving philosophy and policy of deinstitutionalisation. The forensic service that these contributors created was predicated on a distancing from the past chaos, and looking forward to creating a service that was new, different and with home-grown solutions.

Participants were aware of contradictions inherent in providing contained care in the context of deinstitutionalisation. This paper explores how they rationalised their decisions – ‘we have to face the reality that there will always be an institution for people who have criminal offending attached to their mental illness’ – and how they attempted to incorporate principles of liberal psychiatry within the risk-conscious parameters of forensic psychiatric services.

Dr. Kate Prebble and Dr. Claire Gooder

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