|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON
244 Roehampton Lane, SW15 4AA
|1950 - 1980
Before 1948, care of the aged poor had been mainly the responsibility of the municipal authorities. With the introduction of the NHS, local authorities lost their hospitals but continued to provide care for the elderly and infirm, usually in their former Public Assistance Institutions. On discharge from hospital, recovered elderly patients would be returned to their institutions or their homes.
However, under the NHS, treatment of the elderly greatly improved and those who had been bedridden and helpless became more ambulant and active. But they were difficult to discharge. Often their homes had been sold as it was assumed they were unlikely to recover, and the patients themselves, who had been in hospital for many years, had become frightened of life outside and were even afraid to leave their wards. No longer needing treatment, they became 'bed blockers', while the waiting list of elderly sick needing hospital treatment grew.
In June 1949 the King Edward's Hospital Fund allocated £250,000 towards the establishment of homes for the aged sick. These homes would be for those patients who needed some nursing care, but not in hospital.
Westmoor House opened on 18th December 1950, the second 'halfway house' to be established by the Fund (the first was Whittington in Highgate). It was so-called because, for patients, it was halfway between hospital and home, providing the final stages of treatment. (The home was later officially opened on 4th July 1951 by Lord Horder.)
The home had been set up by Dr Trevor Howell, consultant physician at the Geriatric Research Unit of St John's Hospital, Battersea. It was attached to the Battersea and Putney Group Hospital Management Committee, but run by a small group of managers appointed by the Fund.
The first patients to be admitted were all long-stay cases from Dr Howell's Unit at St John's Hospital. One had been in the Hospital from 10 years, and bedridden for 18 months of that time. Another had also been in the Hospital for 10 years, but was ambulant. Other patients had been in hospital from 2 to 5 years.
The halfway house played an important part in the rehabilitation of hemiplegic patients physically disabled by mild stroke, enabling them to live actively and independently and so return to their own homes or to hostel accommodation. They were encouraged to become more mobile and to take part in the domestic activities of the home - peeling potatoes, dusting, sewing, mending, etc. Handicraft activities were organised to improve dexterity and build up morale.
During 1954 the home received 29 patients, mainly from St John's Hospital.
In 1974, following a major reorganisation of the NHS, the home came under the control of the Roehampton District Health Authority, part of the Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth (Teaching) Regional Health Authority. It had 20 beds.
The home closed in 1980.
Present status (January 2009)
The original building has been demolished and the Westmoor Community Clinic and the Mayfield Surgery built on its site. Within the complex, at the rear of the site, is the current Westmoor House - a mixed ward for mental health patients needing support and treatment. Westmoor House is run by the South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust.
The Westmoor Community Clinic and Mayfield Surgery.
Signage at the left of the entrance drive.
The Mayfield Surgery at the front of the site.
The main entrance to the Surgery.
|References (Accessed 17th January 2017)
(Author unstated) 1951 The Care of the Aged Sick. The Story of an Experiment in Providing Homes for Aged Patients Within the National Health Service. London, King Edward's Hospital Fund for London.
(Author unstated) 1951 King Edward's Fund Homes for Aged Sick. British Medical Journal 1 (4721), 1522.
Howell TH 1967 A half-way house for the aged sick: the first ten years at "Westmoor". Journal of the American Geriatric Society 15, 651-657.
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