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Anthroposophical doctor prescribed quack medicine to Camphill clients

(update Social Services Report referred to below can now be viewed from the downloads area of the blog)

Coleg Elidyr is a Welsh Camphill Community specialising in the residential care and education of young adults with moderate to severe learning difficulties. All Camphills operate in accordance with Steiner belief, they are Anthroposophical care homes and, as registered care homes, are subject to routine inspections by Social Services. The agency responsible for such inspections in Wales is the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW).

A CSSIW Inspection Report undertaken in 2007 informs that many of Coleg Elidyr Camphill’s clients were prescribed and taking homeopathic medicines, prescriptions were courtesy of an unnamed anthroposophical doctor.

Readers can find the proof of this by downloading the full Inspection Report via the blog’s boxnet widget (bottom right of the left hand panel options on this page) and searching on the term ‘homeopathic’ within the document or by reading page 16 of the document. The Inspection Report is no longer available from the CSSIW website.

There are potential legal outcomes for me here in that the use of CSSIW information within their Inspection Reports is severely restricted. I’d need the written permission of the Welsh National Assembly to even quote what the conditions are. Prescription of homeopathic medicines to vulnerable people in care is in my opinion a legitimate concern of public interest and I have published this post on that basis.

This recent Guardian report quotes Prof John Beddington, the government’s chief scientific adviser, telling a Commons science and technology committee

“I have made it completely clear that there is no scientific basis for homeopathy beyond the placebo effect and that there are serious concerns about its efficacy”

The Guardian also reports Prof Beddington as saying ministers agreed to fund homeopathy on the grounds of “public choice”, despite there being “no real evidence” that the remedies work.

It’s my contention that the element of choice for some of our most vulnerable citizens, residents in Anthropsophical care homes, is absent. Followers of this blog will remember an earlier post published here last year covering the role of Anthroposophical doctors within Anthroposphical (aka Steiner, Steiner Waldorf) schools and within Camphills. It’s worth quoting from that post

“People in need of care but without parents or family will not have chosen a care home; Social Services will have made the placement on their behalf…They’ll be without parents or family gauging their day to day nuances in behaviour, the nuances that signal the general well being (or otherwise) of a person. In Anthroposophical settings, those day to day signals will be interpreted by Anthroposophical carers and physicians in light of Steiner beliefs and, if deemed appropriate, the resident treated with an Anthroposophical remedy.”

At Coleg Elidyr Camphill many residents were prescribed quack homeopathic medicine by an Anthroposophical doctor. It is unclear as to how many of the residents decided to opt for a quack remedy themselves as distinct from having had the decision made for them. Whatever the situation, it should be remembered that Coleg Elidyr is only one of many Camphills here in UK and abroad and that all Camphills operate in accordance with Steiner’s Anthroposophical beliefs (see here eg).

A brief description of the tools of the trade of a Camphill can be found within this online pdf . Originally written in 1999 by Dr Nick Blitz (who operates within Irish Camphills) the document is available via a South African Camphill, such is the timelessness and uniformity of approach amongst Camphills globally. I quote from the document Dr Nick’s overview of the range of therapies available at Camphill.

“Besides homeopathic and herbal medicines, the spectrum of therapies available at Camphill is truly impressive covering therapeutic art, therapeutic music, eurythmy, which is a form of movement therapy, play therapy and counselling, rhythmic massage and hydro therapy, and also riding therapy”

Wow Dr Nick, that truly is impressive. After reading that and other recent documentation we shouldn’t be surprised to find Anthropsophical care homes such as Coleg Elidyr practicing quack medicine and ‘alternative’ therapies on the people they are caring for, it would be surprising if they didn’t. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be Anthropsophical would they.

Camphills have always been an attractive option for Social Services looking for care placements. Camphills rely heavily on volunteer labour and so with lower overheads can offer much better value for money than can their mainstream or state run equivalents. Social Services and other cash-strapped agencies seeking value for money when carrying out their Duty of Care will surely find Camphill placements an increasingly attractive proposition, especially so in the current cycle of massive budget cuts.

Sadly, Prof Beddington and other critics of homeopathic quackery and its availability on the NHS remain reticent on the matter of state funding Anthroposophical care homes. Hopefully this post with its proof of use of quack medicines on vulnerable people in a care home will stimulate interest and debate and help change things for the better.


  1. mule mule November 6, 2010

    Great detective work Mike and urgently needed too.

    I’ve often wondered how the Anthroposophists running these homes are able to justify to Social Services the existence of Anthroposophical Doctors and other Anthro specialist therapies.

    More importantly how are the residents persuaded to see the Anthroposophical Doctor and take the treatments, do they have any choice?

    If the residents only have access to this particular pernicious form of alternative healthcare – and I suspect they do given that the majority of Camphill communities are isolated and nearly self-sufficient – is this what enables Camphill to be one of the wealthiest charities in the UK?

    A quick look at the Coleg Elidyr Camphill training prospectus includes modules such as:

    The Temperaments
    Karma and Reincarnation
    Personal Development
    Life between death and rebirth
    The Zodiac
    Life before Birth – Our Journey through the Planets
    The Twelve Senses
    The Order of Birth
    The Threefold Human Being
    The Fourfold Human Being
    Understanding the Human Being out of Anthroposophy:
    The Seven Life Processes
    An Introduction to Curative Education
    An Introduction to Diagnostics

    One must ask what happens when graduates from such courses apply their new found knowledge to the care of those most vulnerable.

  2. mule mule November 7, 2010

    From a Camphill in Salisbury 2009:

    “Daneswood benefits from consultations and in-service training provided by Dr Peter Gruenewald, an anthroposophical doctor and General Practitioner within the National Health Service with special interest in people with learning disabilities. Where appropriate, he will prescribe homeopathic and/or herbal treatment to complement mainstream treatments and advise on other appropriate therapeutic approaches”.
    (page 3 Nursing and Healthcare)

  3. questioner questioner November 10, 2010

    The writer and contributors to this blog are obviously acting out of both ignorance and some sort of personal grudge, and cannot be taken seriously.

  4. Camphill fan Camphill fan November 10, 2010

    Unlike your writer, I lived in Camphill for many years, although I am no longer involved in the organisation. During my time in Camphill, I was greatly privilaged to work with several Anthroposophical doctors. Each one of them (including Dr Nick Blitz) was a fully qualified GP, as well as having had extensive training in Anthroposophical medicine. One of the most important ideals of Camphill is the absolute belief in the dignity of each and every single person, including those with Special Needs. Central to the upholding of the dignity of the individual is that each person is giving the freedom and the opportunity to make their own choices in life. No person is “forced” to take any anthroposophical medication, or to consult with the Anthroposophical doctor. In all the Camphill centres, the clients/residents regularly are seen by their local GP and any Specialists they need to visit. The anthroposophical doctors are there to offer advice and support, and their work is deeply appreciated.
    It is clear that the person who has written this blog has no idea about the wonderful work which the people in Camphill do on a daily basis.

  5. Anonymous Anonymous November 11, 2010

    Like the above poster I have an actual experience of Camphill. Parents fight long and hard to get their children into Camphill Communities because of the QUALITY of life people with learning disabilities find in these communities, not because they are cheap alternatives. It is sad that these bloggers are so pleased with themselves to discover that members of Camphill Communities use Alternative Therapies and use this as a way of disparaging an incredibly valuable and much respected life alternative for vulnerable people. Maybe you should have watched the hate crime film on BBC earlier this month to see some of the alternatives possibilities.

  6. ThetisMercurio ThetisMercurio November 11, 2010

    Would any of the writers of the above 3 comments like to comment on this content from the Coleg Elidyr Camphill training prospectus? Perhaps someone would like to explain why these topics are taught to those intending to work in Camphill settings?

    The Temperaments
    Karma and Reincarnation
    Personal Development
    Life between death and rebirth
    The Zodiac
    Life before Birth – Our Journey through the Planets
    The Twelve Senses
    The Order of Birth
    The Threefold Human Being
    The Fourfold Human Being
    Understanding the Human Being out of Anthroposophy:
    The Seven Life Processes
    An Introduction to Curative Education
    An Introduction to Diagnostics

    Is a full and frank introduction to Anthroposophy offered to those responsible for placing vulnerable adults in these settings?

  7. nas nas November 11, 2010

    ThetisMercurio: blah blah blah blah blah

  8. ukanthroposophy ukanthroposophy November 12, 2010

    Thanks to all of you for your comments, please do keep chipping in. I’m still preoccupied with house hunting and we now have another family difficulty to cope with so I’m unable to do much more than press the accept button as and when comments come in but I’ll have time later this evening to send my own response to points raised.

    Meanwhile, bear in mind we’re dealing with a highly sensitive and emotive issue here. Whatever view you have on the matter, sending in personal insults or snearing helps nobody because it only serves to demean and undermine what you say. Neither does sending me hate mail help because I just bin such stuff, it doesn’t bother me at all, so send your comments here where they will maybe be of use – the blog post has been viewed hundreds of times already, your voice can make a difference.

  9. ukanthroposophy ukanthroposophy November 12, 2010

    Camphill fan, you say no person is forced to take Anthropsophical medicine or consult an Anthroposophical doctor.

    Within the grounds of the Camphills on the outskirts of Aberdeen there is an NHS surgery. It is called Camphill Medical Practice. It is run by Anthropsophical doctors, it boasts of its Anthropsophical approach.
    As you yourself say, the vulnerable people in a Camphill will be regularly seen by their local GP – at Aberdeen the local GPs are Anthropsophical doctors, where’s the choice in consulting in that situation? It’s the same situation in other Camphills where we see Anthropsophical NHS surgeries within or nearby Camphills.

    Regarding medicines, you imply vulnerable people in care choose quack medicine of their own volition. The kind and severity of impairment, disability or illness a vulnerable person in care has can affect the person’s mental capacity to understand things. This in turn affects a person’s ability to make decisions on an informed basis.

    The only person with Down’s syndrome I know can’t add up or reason very well. Given that people with Down’s syndrome comprise a sizeable portion of the population of Camphill residents and given also that their mental capacities are on a par with those of the person I know, how, then, do our most vulnerable people in Anthropsophical care decide on the matter of whether or not to take Anthropsophical medicine? How are the differences between allopathic and allotropic medicines explained to them?

  10. ukanthroposophy ukanthroposophy November 12, 2010

    mule & ThetisMercurio, the recruitment process of Camphills is something somebody should write about, it’s been on my list of things to do for a long time but I still haven’t gotten around to doing it but I will in time if nobody else comes up with one. I’d be interested to learn of the reading list the students of Aberdeen’s BA in ‘Curative Eductaion’ (now titled ‘Social Pedagogy’ or some such title) and compare it with the now defunct Plymouth BA Steiner Waldorf Education reading list. Whilst it took Freedom of Information law to prise the student reading list from Plymouth maybe Aberdeen Uni will be less paranoid about BA student reading lists and pass them on. Or maybe there’s a student enrolled and reading here that might care to do so.

  11. ukanthroposophy ukanthroposophy November 12, 2010

    Anonymous, I’ve tried to answer your comment but I’m too tired to write coherently. I’ll get around to it tomorrow when I’m refreshed. Meanwhile if you could tell me what the hate crime film was I’ll watch it.

  12. ukanthroposophy ukanthroposophy November 13, 2010

    Anonymous, value for money is not the same as cheap. Cost is surely an important factor for a cash starved Social Services needing to find placements for the people it has a Duty of Care for isn’t it? As for the rest of your comment, the use of quack medicine by Anthropsophical doctors is well known. The use of ‘Alternative Therapies’ within Camphills and other Anthropsophical settings has been known for a long time. None of it is news to bloggers and others attempting to raise awareness of the highly contentious beliefs underpinning Anthroposophy and its application and practice. Little wonder then that critics disparage such things.

  13. ukanthroposophy ukanthroposophy November 13, 2010

    mule, thanks for the info.

  14. Northernrefugee Northernrefugee November 16, 2010

    It’s easy to admire Camphill from the outside, our children were at a Steiner school within one, so we had comparatively good idea of what went on, and for a while I did admire the set up and what I thought were the ideas behind it. But this is the spin, the selling point, not the spiritual belief which leads it, you have to dig deeper than their leaflets to find the word “anthroposophy”. It’s no coincidence that their fundraising drives are notoriously good, (they don’t mention anthroposophy or karma etc etc though)
    There were warning signs that it wasn’t all it appeared from the outside quite early on. One co-worker/house parent said about one of the residents that they “didn’t believe these people were like they were ( ie- learning difficulties) for the same reasons as we did” I now understand this to mean she believed it was a sort of “karmic lesson” from a past life incident and that the role of anthroposophical “curative” healing was to enhance a later incarnation. But at the time I was puzzled.
    There are plenty of very “good” people doing what they believe to be “good” work in Camphill, and much of what they achieve is truly good. But much of it is skewed by their lack of honesty about the why’s of the things they practice. There is apparently a widely held opinion in social care circles that the way Camphill functions is patronising and treats the people who live there as children. (I agree with this from my experience, although I think children have a better time of it- the residents are at the bottom of the pile and my children witnessed the children bullying the residents.)
    People notice that the residents sometimes cling to “outsiders” and want communication and contact. Personally I have witnessed some verbal treatment which I personally found disturbing and unexpected by those in charge, who had probably forgotten that an “outsider” was present.
    The residents also had to “curative eurythmy” – I don’t think they had a choice but I’m not sure about that.
    It’s all very well for Camphill to take it upon themselves to “help” these people spiritually, but to feel worthy and be less than candid about their anthroposophical motives is morally wrong imo.

  15. John John March 15, 2018

    It appears that the author thinks the debate around the system of homeopathy is directly applicable to Anthroposophic medicines, that the whole system of Anthroposophic Medicine which has enough evidence behind it as a system to be adopted by the Swiss government as a statutory part of their healthcare provision is therefore quack and that it would be less restrictive in terms of the rights of adults with learning disabilities to treat the likes of emotional and behaviour disorders with antidepressants and antipsychotic medication with sedative side effects… hang in there is no evidence for their use in patients with learning disabilities either and lack of ability to consent is a much bigger issue when adverse effects are likely and include shortening of life in the case of antipsychotic drugs…
    I’m afraid the author is using evidence for one thing to ridicule another and doesn’t have a viable alternative proposal or sufficient knowledge of the subject to even provide an adequate critique of the approaches used. This is a poorly written, poorly referenced and ill conceived peice which appears to primarily have malicious intentions of undermining one of the most successful integrative medicine systems in the world on the basis of an entirely different debate.

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