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The History of Home Care

Home care has been am American Tradition for more than a century. Starting in the 1880’s public health nurses traveled to patients’ homes caring for the sick, teaching family members how to provide care in their absence, suggesting ways to improve health, and comforting the dying. As the nurse’s role in saving lives became more apparent, insurance companies started to offer visiting nurse services to their working and middle class policyholders faced with illness. By 1916, these services were available to more than 10 million policy holders in the United States, creating the first nationwide system of insurance payment for home-based care.

The National Association for Home Care (NAHC) estimates that more than 8 million Americans currently receive home care for mild, acute, and long-term needs. This figure increases every day, as greater numbers of people are able to leave institutions or thanks to advancing technology, avoid ever having to enter them. State of the art medical equipment for use in the home now can provide treatments and services that once were available only in the hospital.

What are the advantages of home care?

  • Home care improves the quality of life by enabling individuals to stay in the comfort and security of their own homes during the times of illness, disability, and recuperation.
  • Home care keeps families together by preventing or postponing institutionalization. A study conducted by the Health Services Utilization and Research Commission has concluded that individuals who receive home care services generally spend fewer days in nursing homes and hospitals.
  • Home care maintains the patient’s dignity, and independence, qualities that commonly are lost in an institutional setting.
  • Home care is less expensive than other forms of health care delivery.
  • Home care offers a wide range of specialized services tailored to meet the needs of each individual on a personal provider-to–patient basis.
  • Home care reinforces and supplements informal care by educating the patient’s family members and friends about the care giving process.