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Services for the mentally deficient : a description of services in British Columbia in the light of British and American experiences. Spencer, William Robert


This study outlines some historical backgrounds and present-day concepts regarding the mentally deficient, followed by a review of progress and experiences in Great Britain and the United States, in preparation for a description and discussion of services being offered mentally deficient persons in British Columbia. This subject is of particular concern to the field of social welfare since the mentally deficient represent a large group of persons who, along with their families are dependent upon the Social Services. The Social Worker's responsibilities for the mentally deficient begin with the period of intitial diagnosis and planning, continue through training, and are particularly evident through rehabilitation and the supervision in the community. In preparing the material the literature was reviewed and classified so that some similarities, differences, and gaps in the programs of Great Britain and the United States would be readily apparent, and could be applied comparatively to a similar description of services to the mentally deficient in British Columbia. The latter was obtained from available literature and reports, and especially from a series of interviews with persons from representative agencies who were concerned in some way with giving services to this group. The study presents, in outline, the advanced state of services to the mentally deficient in Great Britain and some parts of the United States. The description of British Columbia services shows many gaps, and the need for a comprehensive program which, if implemented, would enable the mentally deficient person to function at his maximum level, throughout his life. It is found that the Parents' Associations are becoming a strong force in the advancement of services to the mentally deficient, especially in the area of education and training. The increased interest on the part of the public can be expected to have a quickening effect on the formation of a new program, and those who are working in this area must be prepared to give leadership. The study presents a foundation of basic information about the mentally deficient in British Columbia upon which it is hoped, more specific research studies can be made toward providing better service to the mentally deficient.

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