Retired mental health nurse Daphne Crampton calls for village option of care
Long-time mental health nurse Daphne Crampton says more money needs to be poured into the health budget.
Now 91, Crampton started her nursing career at the former Ngawhatu Psychiatric Hospital in Nelson but also worked at the Levin Hospital and Training School, later known as the Kimberley Centre, and Sunnyside Hospital in Christchurch.
She has seen many changes over the years including the move away from institutions to care in the community for people with mental health problems. Crampton said she did not believe community care was best for everyone all of the time.
"People can live in the community with treatment but occasionally, they need institutional care," she said.
It might not be permanent.
"The thing about mental health is that lots of people have temporary aberrations."
Crampton suggested a village-type arrangement, which might have its own cafe and supermarket, where the residents could live an "ordinary life" and receive visitors. It could provide a safe place for people who were not coping in the community and others in need of respite care. It could also be a home for people whose ageing parents might no longer be able to care for them.
"A village where people could be protected but families could be assured of their care," she said.
Such a village would require a boost to the health budget "and the health people need to reconsider what is necessary for the provision of care".
Crampton was born in 1926 at Cheviot, the youngest in a family of eight siblings.
"We just lived outside the township and Dad worked round about rabbiting, shearing and harvesting," she said.
Crampton's first job was in the post office as a telephone operator where the residents were on party lines.
"We knew everybody," Crampton said. "We didn't necessarily know them by sight but we knew them by voice."
After a few years, she moved to Christchurch and worked in a restaurant. A friend came to stay who had been nursing "and I thought if she can do it, so can I". So Crampton went to Ngawhatu.
"In those days, we used to train on the job and we had a nurses' home," she said.
There was already a link with Ngawhatu for Crampton – her aunt, Susan Waters, had been a matron at the hospital for the first open villas.
"She was a lovely person," Crampton said. "She used to come and see us every now and again. She had a car and she used to get a mechanic to drive her because it was a long way down from Nelson to Cheviot in those days."
Crampton worked at Ngawhatu for several years then married and moved to the North Island. After about 10 years, she got a divorce and worked at the then Levin Hospital and Training School. She later moved back to Christchurch and worked at Sunnyside.
"I was a staff nurse at Sunnyside at the time when the hospital was being run down," she said. "In discussions, we were told that Christians were do-gooders; the churches are ready to meet any needs. They can do what we do so there's no need to keep this open. And it was gradually closed."
Crampton retired before the end and did not work in mental health after that. She was about 60 by then.
"I retired for a while and then I went to China."
Crampton helped adults learning English at Changchun and then Jilin. She was preparing to return home when she broke her left leg.
"I was piggybacked down a flight of stairs to a taxi, taken to the hospital where it was set."
Unfortunately, it wasn't set properly and had to be broken again and reset later in Guangzhou, where she had "beautiful treatment".
"It was Christmas. They don't celebrate it but they did for me in the hospital."
Crampton returned to Christchurch where she lived until the earthquake left her home "in a shambles", prompting her move back to Nelson.