THERE’s nothing more telling about how attitudes to mental illness have changed in the past 100 years than the name given to Rampton Hospital when it first opened in 1912.
It was called Rampton Asylum up until 1920, a title which has long since fallen out of favour.
An exhibition challenging the myths behind Rampton and the stigma often associated with mental illness has just opened at Bassetlaw Musuem in Retford.
It marks the hospital’s 100th anniversary and highlights the way patient care at Rampton has evolved during the last century.
Musuem curator Sam Glasswell said one of the medical instruments on display had been used in performing leucotomies.
She said: “They used it to make an incision in the brain on extreme patients, to help alleviate some types of mental illness, but there could be mood and emotional side effects as well as physical effects like incontinence.”
She said a male nurse’s uniform from years ago looked like that of a security guard, with a severe jacket and peaked cap.
“We have a lamp which they used to take round at night to check people were still in bed and hadn’t tried to escape.”
“And we’ve got a key made by a patient from a bed spring to try to escape in the 1960s,” she said.
“It used to be that you didn’t talk about mental illness and you locked people up, and part of the strength of this exhibition is getting us to see the people behind the stories.”
“The patients are mentioned by name and their accounts are included. There’s a very moving one from parents whose son was admitted into Rampton and their relief that he was finally going to get some help.”
Rampton is one of three high-security hospitals in the country and 1,900 people work there, making it one of the area’s biggest employers.
Bassetlaw council chairman Ian Campbell and the hospital’s head of security services Lee Brammer opened the exhibition called 100 Years of Patient Care.
Coun Campbell said: “I had only ever heard stories about Rampton Hospital so it is great to find out all about the true history of the hospital and the way that patient care has changed over the past century.”
“This exhibition challenges the myths behind the hospital and the stigma associated with mental illness.”
Sam said copies of a free booklet produced by Notts Healthcare NHS Trust about Rampton’s history have been “flying off the shelves” at the museum.
Retired clinical nurse specialist Dawn Madine said: “Being involved in the story telling of my working life at Rampton Hospital was great and quite touching to think how people value the memories and experiences I have.”
While retired enrolled nurse Brenda Davison said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the exhibition, it’s been great to remember past times.”
Rampton communications assistant Helen Ashwell said it had been a huge project, with lots of information and photographs.
The free exhibition will run until 24th November.