The Villas – Part One

After reading about scary walks in the night it has prompted me to tell you a story that really did happen to me at 17 years of age.

In 1967 I enrolled to train as a Psychopaedic Nurse – Psycho = mind , Paedic = child. Years ago any child that looked a bit different and didn’t fit into the norm in society were put into Pyschopaedic Hospitals to live their lives until they passed on.

Those were the days when nurses trained in hospitals. This hospital was called Templeton Hospital Farm and Training School. It was located in a rural area away from society on the peripheral of Christchurch City in New Zealand.

Unfortunately I cannot find a photograph of it so I will try to explain the plan of it. The hospital was set out in a rural farming area. Sexes were separated apart from one villa. All the male patients were living at one end of the farm and the females at the other end. Staff lived in the nursing home which also were separated.

In between the two parts of the hospital was training school. Some patients would go there during week days and learn skills such as weaving baskets and making leather wallets.

I worked on the girls end which consisted of several villas that were not structurally connected. The patients were placed in villas depending on their disabilities. At the Female end I can remember one villa was all little Down syndrome Boys which also had some older Down syndrome males that would help look after the little ones with the nurses.

While on night duty I had to do what they called ‘the wet run’. I had to leave the senior nurse in the villa on her own with about 30 patients where there was a mixture of children and adults. I had to walk to another villa that only had one nurse and help her toilet and change patients, beds etc.

One cold dark night I was walking to the another villa. I heard a noise that sounded like a bicycle so I walked faster, the noise came closer, so I walked even faster, almost running. Then a man with a deep sounding voice called out ‘ It’s alright nurse, its only the night stoker’. That was scary , but I can laugh about it now.

There’s more stories about that place but that will do for today. I trained there for one year only. A few years later the hospital was closed down. Patients were placed in residential care places in the community.

19 thoughts on “The Villas – Part One

    1. I agree it is thank goodness. They also cut down patient ratios in the local psychiatric hospital and for people that were deemed safe they all housed in groups of about 6 in rental houses and then had regular visits from staff. I worked in mental health for years. If people are safe they are far better off living in the community.

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. It was only a very small glimpse. I am certain you would be horrified if you heard more about what happened in the 12 months I was there. It was a real eye opener to me.

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    1. That classification also included adults whose brain/mind had not developed past a very young child. I thoroughly enjoyed caring for the children but I didn’t like management and staff that I had to work with. It was a toxic environment.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It’s fascinating you did this work, how did you find it? I’d love to read more about this place. I am, however, incredibly glad things have changed; it’s beyond heartbreaking to think how many children were put into care because they didn’t fit the ‘norm’. As for this experience you had that night, I think I would have peed my pants! xx

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