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Hospitals, geriatric medicine, and the long-term care of elderly people 1946-1976



Hospitals, geriatric medicine, and the long-term care of elderly people 1946-1976



Social History of Medicine 14(3): 507-523



This article investigates the development and interaction of the views of medical professionals and health officials on elderly care between 1946 and the early 1970s. It examines how the cultural and political context in which new ideas on the treatment of elderly people emerged in the early post-war period affected policy development in this area. The article argues that, in combination, the political and financial imperatives of health officials and the cultural prejudices of many in the medical profession created a situation in which progressive ideas about geriatric medicine and home care were used, not to improve the overall standard of care for elderly people, but to restrict their access to long-term medical and nursing care. The most important development in this respect, it will be argued, were efforts made by government from the mid-1950s to restrict the amount of provision for older people in hospitals, through the introduction of a geriatric bed norm. What lay at the heart of this question, the article concludes, was the reluctance of policy-makers to confront directly issues relating to the continuing care of old people with complex health problems. The reasons for this reluctance will be examined.

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Accession: 046274631

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PMID: 11811191


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