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

Bridgen, Paul (2001) Hospitals, geriatric medicine, and the long-term care of elderly people 1946-1976. Social History of Medicine, 14, (3), 507-523. (doi:10.1093/shm/14.3.507).


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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 older people with complex health problems. The reasons for this reluctance will be examined.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1093/shm/14.3.507
Additional Information: Full text available when logged into Webcat
ISSNs: 0951-631X (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: geriatric medicine, elderly people, older people, continuing care, hospitals, bed norm, rehabilitation, domiciliary care, medical profession, ministry of health
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Social Sciences > Sociology and Social Policy
ePrint ID: 39779
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:09

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