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Nine Days in a Residential Nursery

Synopsis of film

JOHN is a loved child who has never been out of his mother's care. At 17 months he is admitted to a group of toddlers in a residential nursery while his mother is in hospital to have a second child.  The nurses are young and friendly, but the system of group care does not allow any one of them to substitute for the absent mother. John tries hard to make a relationship to get the comfort he needs, but he is defeated and becomes increasingly distressed.

The cheerful young nurses are habituated to sporadic crying, and as they are not assigned to the care of individual children the severity of John's distress is not recognised until a late stage; even then, the work-system prevents the child's need of substitute mothering from being met.  When on the ninth day John's mother comes to take him home, he will not accept her and struggles to get out of her arms.  He looks at his mother in a way she has never seen before.