Enfield Receiving House
|Enfield Receiving House circa 1926|
The Enfield Receiving House was an 80-bed facility built in 1922 to house South Australia’s mentally ill patients who were classified as “10th Schedule Admissions”. This hospital, and other mental health facilities in the State, came under the supervision of the Superintendent of Mental Institutions, Dr. H.M. Birch.
The Enfield Receiving House was situated on a 20-acre block at the corner of Grand Junction Rd, Foster's Rd and Hilltop Drive Adelaide, South Australia which remains vacant since its declassification in 1982 and subsequent demolition. A mental health facility still occupies some of the land where once sat the Northfield Security Hospital (1973 - 1987) for the criminally insane at the rear of where the Enfield Hospital once sat. That facility is James Nash House, built in 1987, which is a facility for ‘Forensic Mental Health’.
The Enfield Receiving House had its name changed in 1963 to the Enfield Hospital, but still acted in the same capacity, receiving those with intellectual disabilities and mental health problems, taking in both children and adults.
The difference between a Receiving Hospital and a Mental Hospital was a legal definition, that a Receiving Hospital is a temporary or observational treatment facility versus a Mental Hospital which is a facility for a more permanent patient stay.
Under old laws a patient could be admitted to a receiving house under a justice's order (s.32) and could legally be held (against their will) for 30 days, or if admitted on request (s.35), for two months.
These periods could be extended by new court proceedings, but only for a total of six months.
Committal to a mental hospital, such as Hillcrest or Glenside was seen as a more permanent form of institutionalisation and was governed by different laws, however, many patients from receiving homes ended up in these facilities.
Disturbing for some readers, is a book titled “The Last of the Lunatics”, written by former director of the Enfield Receiving house, between 1951 and 1963, John Cawte AO, MB BS, MD, DPM, PhD, FRANZCP, FRCPsych, FAPA.
In his book Cawte describes many aspects of his time at the hospital, often referring to specific cases taken from his own files, which survived the demolition of the hospital in 1982.
Cawte describes the use of continuous water baths, straight-jackets and padded cells, but perhaps most disturbing is his candid descriptions of electroconvulsive therapy and surgical lobotomies, or the use of insulin to produce comas in patients (sometimes known as ICT – insulin coma therapy or IST – Insulin shock therapy).
In 1979, The Enfield Hospital became part of the Hillcrest Hospital, and by 1982 was fully incorporated as part of the Hillcrest facility. Hill crest Hospital was decommissioned in 1994 and parts of the site sold off.
One part that remained, was Makk and McLeay and Clements House, three wards of the Oakden Older Person’s Mental Health Service, which was closed in 2017 after allegations of mistreatment by staff of its patients.
Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2018
Cawte, John, 1998, The Last of the Lunatics, Melbourne University Press; Melbourne (Australia)
George, T. S. 1972, “COMMITMENT AND DISCHARGE OF THE MENTALLY ILL IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA”, The Adelaide Law Review, Iss.4, p. 331 viewed 2 July 2018, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/AdelLawRw/1972/5.pdf
State Records of South Australia, 'Agency Details: GA1993 Enfield Receiving House, later Enfield Hospital 1922 - 1981', in State Records of South Australia, ArchivesSearch, http://archives.sa.gov.au.