Nursing homes have had an unprecedented growth in the past 10 years. This growth has been in response to an urgent need. Although the need probably has always existed, the demand for nursing home care was greatly increased by the Old Age Assistance Program in 1935, which made it possible to grant federal and state assistance to the aged in their own homes or in private institutions such as nursing homes. Other important factors have been the increase in the number of older persons, the shortage of general hospital beds, the general housing shortage since World War II, and the lack of other facilities for the chronically ill and for the homeless aged.
Nursing homes now provide a variety of types of care. These include substitute home or boarding home care, convalescent care, care for the aged and for the chronically ill. The services required vary from minimal help to