N is for Nursing Homes

The development of the Nursing Home in Springhill house and the somewhat optimistic ambitions of its founders is documented elsewhere.

Prior to 1905 care of the elderly infirm occurred under the Poor Law system, either by out-relief or in the workhouse. As the first quarter of the 20th century developed this was felt to be inappropriate and the Local Government Act 1929 enabled local authorities to develop workhouses as either hospitals or care homes for the elderly. The workhouse in Rossendale, actually the Haslingden Union, turned into the Rossendale General Hospital. Springhill residents requiring the workhouse would have been sent there, and many Springhill residents were born, received treatment or died there in its hospital days.

Conditions in early nursing homes were not good and in 1926 a Select Committee on Nursing Homes (Registration) was established. Their report led to the Nursing Homes Registration Act 1927 which led to the registration and inspection of private nursing homes. These were still on the whole large establishments.

The provision of residential accommodation for the elderly and others in need became the responsibility of the Local Authority under the National Assistance Act 1948. For Springhill this was the Rawtenstall Municipal board. This was the framework under which Springhill Nursing Home was established in 1962.

As the 1960s progressed the distinction began to be made between residential homes (which provided social and personal care to those who did not require nursing care) and nursing homes (which provided nursing care in addition). Springhill was a private nursing home, managed by a registered general nurse (although this wasn't actually a requirement until the Health Services Act 1980) and with trained staff on duty. As a private institution it was expected to return a profit, but it is unclear to what extent this was realised.

Regulation was extended by the Nursing Homes Act 1975 which brought the responsibility for registration and inspection to the Area and then the District Health Authorities.

Although Springhill Nursing Home had closed by then, the introduction of the National Minimum Wage in 1999 and the National Minimum Standards for care homes in 2001 increased the financial pressure on the private nursing home industry. A number of homes closed, a high proportion of those being single site enterprises in adapted residential dwellings for whom meeting the standards was challenging.

Summaries of the development of nursing home care by
Sheila Peace and by Lievesley and Crosby (on behalf of BUPA)