Many people are referred for treatment or need nursing care at some time in their lives, but increasingly this takes place without a stay in hospital. The high cost of care in hospital and advances in medical techniques have created a trend for treatment on a day care basis, either in hospital or another medical facility, such as an outpatient clinic, and for nursing care at home.
The first article in this section looks at ways of accessing hospital care, either through accident and emergency services or when you are referred to a specialist for treatment.
Day care (care that does not need an overnight stay in hospital), also known as ambulatory care, is provided in a number of settings. The development of less invasive surgical techniques has enabled many treatments that would once have required a hospital stay of several days to be carried out on a day care basis.
The article on hospital care looks at the various reasons why you might be admitted to hospital and provides an overview of hospital routines. The different levels of care, from routine care on a general hospital ward to intensive care for people who are critically ill, are also described here.
Finally, the advantages of nursing care in the home are discussed, including the need for support for carers.
Rehabilitation therapies aim to allow people to live independent lives, either after an illness or injury or because of a problem present since birth. Some therapies are used to treat children with developmental problems. Although some of these therapies may be started in hospital, treatment frequently continues at home.
This section describes three major types of therapy used in rehabilitation: physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy. Rehabilitation may involve more than one type of therapy, and usually a programme is developed to meet an individual’s needs and circumstances, for example, cardiac rehabilitation following a heart attack or pulmonary rehabilitation for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The goal of physiotherapy is to improve mobility and maintain the normal function of the body using physical techniques, such as exercise and massage. Occupational therapy helps people who have physical or mental illnesses to cope with everyday living and to remain as independent as possible. Speech therapy may be used to help people with communication problems or who have swallowing difficulties after a stroke.
Many mental health problems, including depression, personality disorders, addictions, and eating disorders, may be helped by psychological therapies. There is a variety of therapies available, some of which explore a person’s past while others focus on current behaviour or thought processes. The person in therapy is often encouraged to take an active role in the treatment.
The treatment of mental health problems with psychological therapy, or psychotherapy, was developed by Sigmund Freud at the end of the 19th century. Since that time, a number of different forms of psychological therapy have evolved. Some of the major types of therapy are described in this section, beginning with forms of psychoanalytic-based psychotherapy, in which the therapist tries to give a person insight into the effect of past experiences. The next two articles look at behaviour therapy and cognitive–behavioural therapy, which are based on changing the way people act or think. Both person-centred therapy and group therapy emphasize supporting the individual and helping people to achieve self-awareness and understanding. In the last article in this section, counselling is discussed. Counselling can help people who need to learn how to cope with personal problems and crises.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.