Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

No Place like Home: A History of Nursing and Home Care in the United States

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

No Place like Home: A History of Nursing and Home Care in the United States

Article excerpt

No Place Like Home:A History of Nursing and Home Care in the United States

by Karen Buhler-Wilkerson, PhD, RN, FAAN; Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001; 293 pages, $48.00

Buhler-Wilkerson's historical account provides a sense of the struggles and honor in the changing role of the home care nurse. With photographs of nurses interacting with patients, at home, dating from the early 1900s to the 1970s, history comes alive.

The reader learns that white and black nurses had many unique challenges in performing their duties. An account of how home care nursing was practiced along racial lines in Charleston, South Carolina, through the Ladies Benevolent Society, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, through the Visiting Nurses Association, indicates that strict social guidelines dictated who received care from whom.

One of the most interesting stories is that of the evolution of Lillian Wald's Henry Street Settlement in New York City. The author explores Wald's work with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MLI) with regard to reimbursement for home care. MLI used the "nurse's judgement" as a factor as to whether or not nursing care was efficient and effective. It identified good professional judgment as follows: "a case involved the requisite number of visits, suitable nursing treatment, and quick disposition in the best interest of patient and family."

The book moves to the period after World War II, when the role of the visiting nurse associations was redefined due to expansive growth and funding deficits. MLI's involvement in home care was far greater than had been predicted. As people experienced the long-term effects of chronic illness, both MLI and Blue Cross conducted studies that found that home care nursing offered dramatic savings over longer hospital stays and the option of no home care services. …

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