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Institutionalisation is a process whereby individuals are expected to follow the same regime, and conform to the same strict rules and systems, regardless of individual needs and circumstances. This process was adopted by the Ripon workhouse as well as many others, denying a person their identity and segregating them from society. Institutionalisation has a detrimental effect on people, making them feel devalued, worthless and a burden on society, which were reinforced by the practices of the workhouse.
Today, there are various types of smaller institutions such as residential care homes which aim to deliver a person-centred approach to care. Person-centred care promotes and recognises the uniqueness of each person in contrast to the traditional, service-led approach that occasionally ignored human rights.
Care settings can avoid institutionalisation by giving people choice in their day to day activities and personal care needs rather than expecting people to adhere to a regime. They must build relationships with people in order to develop trust, and to understand their needs and wishes, and ensure the care they’re giving is individualised and that people are involved in their own support plans.
Significant changes have been made within care practice since the days of the workhouse. However there is still a way to go to ensure that every individual in need of care is recognised as a person and not a number.
For more information about the policies in place for care see Making Sure the Care Act Works.