Policy Press

From Poor Law to community care

The development of welfare services for elderly people 1939-1971

By Robin Means and Randall Smith


Sep 1, 1998

Page count

380 pages




216 x 138 mm


Policy Press
From Poor Law to community care

Recent community care changes have raised fundamental issues about the changing role of the public, voluntary and informal sectors in the provision of social care to older people. They have also raised issues about the health and social care interface, the extent to which services should be rationed and the respective roles of residential care and care at home.

From Poor Law to community care sets these debates in the context of the historical growth of welfare services from the outbreak of the Second World War through to the establishment of social services departments in 1971. Based on extensive research on primary sources, such as the Public Records Office and interviews with key actors, the book considers the changing perceptions of the needs of elderly people, the extent to which they have been a priority for resources and the possibilities for a policy which combines respect for elderly people with an avoidance of the exploitation of relatives.

This is an updated second edition of The development of welfare services for elderly people, first published by Croom Helm, 1985. It is essential reading for practitioners and policy makers interested in gerontology, policy studies, community care and postgraduate students studying and training in a range of health and social care related professions.

The detailed analyses conducted by Means and Smith convey an authenticity which has the reader reflecting in a refreshed way on the debates of the present day. Australisian Journal on Ageing.

"It remains a fascinating exploration, illustrated by apposite extracts from original sources, of a relatively uncharted period of welfare evolution; there is a particular pleasure in perusing these 'historical' accounts and realising with a jolt their continued, often heightened, salience to current debates." SPA News.

Historical accounts of services provide a salutary reminder of changing perceptions of older people and attitudes towards them. This second edition is a very useful addition to the social policy literature.

A very strong and original contribution to the field of ageing studies ... extremely highly regarded.

"A historical perspective on the development of community care...a wide ranging book...disigned primarily for postgraduate students in social gerontology. It is a useful source of references with regard to health and social care." Oxford Academic Journals

Contents: Introduction; Evacuation and elderly people in the Second World War; Civilian morale and elderly people: the emergence of 'reforms' in residential and domiciliary welfare services; The 1948 National Assistance Act and the provision of welfare services for elderly people; Issues in residential care; Avoiding institutional care: the changing role of the state, the family and voluntary organisations; The restructuring of welfare services for elderly people; Community care and older people: reflections on the past, present and future.

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