[APG Public List] Nursing homes

Ray Beere Johnson II raybeere at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 27 17:50:15 MDT 2010

     Etymology is always a tricky subject. What _seems_ to be the origin of a word or phrase may not be the true origin, so I'm speculating here.
     I haven't, personally, run into the term "nursing home" in North America as a specifically maternity related institution. _However_, I did research on one case where a child was born outside the home - in the residence of a doctor, who appeared to have other pregnant women lodging with him. This was around 1850. I've seen references to similar arrangements elsewhere.
     _As far as I can tell_, the original use of the term "nursing home" was for _any_ facility which offered to nurse patients through any situation, whatever the specialty. This _would_ have in theory applied to the doctor I researched and his patients, even if I didn't run across the term used to refer to him. (It may have been used in other sources - the client didn't pay me to research the situation in any depth.) Gradually, certain other terms came to apply to specific niches within this function, such as sanatorium. At the same time, more and more youthful patients of such homes were able to be cured. When this process was far enough advanced, many such homes focused on the aged and infirm, and the term came to refer to this specialty.
     I don't know about the UK usage, but I at least wonder if this was also a more general term. It does seem there were more such facilities for pregnant women in the UK, but does that mean the term was limited to them alone, or that they were the most prominent of the various places called nursing homes? I'd love to know if anyone has seen an older reference in the UK to a "nursing home" which was _not_ solely devoted to maternity cases. It would be interesting to know just how precise the term was.
     If I saw the notation "born in a nursing home", at least in the US, I would consider - without checking the specific institution - that it was possible the mother went there to give birth, _or_ that she was ill or disabled in some way. (In fact, I think some of the facilities I've read about were for either unmarried women or women with particular health issues, and that was the reason they went away from home to give birth.) Something to at least think about.
                                      Ray Beere Johnson II

--- On Mon, 9/27/10, LBoswell <laboswell at rogers.com> wrote:

> In the UK and Ireland, the term 'nursing home' is often used to mean 
> 'maternity home' or 'birth home'.  Not sure if that was the case in 
> Canada or the US.   So and so 'born in nursing home'. 
> What I'm wondering is what is the origin of the phrase 'nursing 
> home'?  Was it orginally used in the sense of a maternity/birth home as 
> was commonly the case in the UK/Ireland?  Interesting, because you 
> could take the term 'nursing' two different directions.  Nursing 
> someone through illness or  in the final stages of old age.  Or nursing 
> as in caring for, nourishing an infant.
> Or did the phrase 'nursing home' evolve from different roots in the UK 
> then it did here?  Were maternity homes, homes for unwed mothers ever 
> called 'nursing homes' in the US/CDA?  Should be noted that the UK 
> 'nursing homes' aren't specifically for unwed mothers, probably most 
> women going to them would have been married.
> (just had a few "born in a nursing home" mentions, so got to thinking 
> about the origin of the phrase)


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