Medical home care services for the housebound elderly

A. M. Clarfield, H. Bergman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In our health jurisdiction the proportion of elderly people is more than double the national average, and there is a severe shortage of both home care services and long-term care beds. To help the many elderly housebound people without primary medical care we initiated a medical services home care program. The goals were patient identification, clinical assessment, medical and social stabilization, matching of the housebound patient with a nearby family physician willing and able to provide home care and provision of a backup service to the physician for consultation and help in arranging admission to hospital if necessary. In the program's first 2 years 105 patients were enrolled; the average age was 78.9 years. More than 50% were widowed, single, separated or divorced, over 25% lived alone, and more than 40% had no children living in the city. In almost one-third of the cases there had never been a primary care physician, and in another third the physician refused to do home visits. Before becoming housebound 15% had been seeing only specialists. Each patient had an average of 3.2 active medical problems and was functionally quite dependent. Thirty-five of the patients were surveyed after 1 year: 24 (69%) were still at home, and only 1 (3%) was in a long-term care institution; 83% were satisfied with the care provided, and 79% felt secure that their health needs were being met. One-third of the patients or their families said that it was not easy to reach the physician when necessary. We recommend that programs similar to ours be set up in health jurisdictions with a high proportion of elderly people. To recruit and retain cooperative physicians hospital geriatric services must be willing to provide educational, consultative and administrative support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-45
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 28 Jan 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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