There’s no place like a Cheshire Home: lived experiences of disability, care and the home

Authors: Laura Crawford*, Loughborough University
Topics: Historical Geography, Disabilities, Social Geography
Keywords: disability, care, home, historical-geography, archives
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Maryland A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Leonard Cheshire is a UK charity which was established in 1948 and became synonymous for the creation of residential homes for physically disabled adults. The ‘Cheshire Homes’ emerged almost by accident when the founder provided end-of-life care for his friend Arthur. The hospital felt that Arthur's bed could be put to better use by a patient who could be cured. Le Court became the first in a global network of homes, and the idea of home was deliberately invoked to signify the kind of atmosphere a ‘Cheshire Home’ would offer. This was directly contrasted to the ‘chronic and geriatric wards’ where many of the Le Court residents had lived previously. This paper will utilise archival data documenting the experiences of residents living at Le Court Cheshire home 1948-1975 with a view to establishing how unique the ‘Cheshire Homes’ were. The paper will consider the compatibility of ‘care’ with ‘home’, the latter often associated with autonomy and independence, and the former linked to notions of dependency (Milligan and Wiles, 2010). By engaging with medical journals this paper will argue that the Cheshire Homes had a specific place in the broader health-care landscape leading to new approaches to the care of disabled adults. Despite this, by engaging with resident accounts this paper will argue that the home reproduced certain attitudes and assumptions about disabled people which ultimately undermined Le Court’s claim to be the residents ‘home’.

Milligan, C. and Wiles, J., 2010. Landscapes of care. Progress in Human Geography, 34(6), pp.736- 754.

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