Caring For People in the Past: Isolation Hospitals

This resource looks at how the new Covid-19 ‘Nightingale Hospitals’ are just the latest development in caring for people who need to be isolated. It uses archive photographs and buildings from the past to look at the history of isolation hospitals in England. Although this PPT is written as a teacher-led classroom presentation, it is designed so that all the ‘activities’ and ‘research tasks’ within it could be done by students as part of their home learning.


Teaching idea

How and why have we cared for people in the past? Focus: Isolation hospitals

Students study a range of primary and secondary sources of evidence relating to the history of isolation hospitals in England. They will be directed to follow a series of activities and research tasks related to these sources.

These include:

  • looking at both the buildings and types of equipment used in the past, so they can be compared to today’s Covid-19 response
  • the treatment of isolated patients from today back to medieval times and how this has, or hasn’t changed
  • the influence Empire has had on our response to infectious diseases
  • the roles of inoculation and vaccines in the development of isolation hospitals and much more

Learning aims and outcomes

  • To develop historical enquiry skills by using photographs as primary source evidence to build knowledge, draw conclusions and stimulate new questions
  • To understand how and why people cared for each other in the past, focusing on those with infectious diseases
  • To use buildings as a source of evidence for interpreting the past
  • To look at examples of change and continuity in health care and the development of treatments for the sick, over time

Prior knowledge

  • An understanding of what infectious disease means

Extended learning and useful links