In spite of the fact that home care has grown considerably during the last few years and will continue to grow even more in the future, home care as a phenomenon and a concept is not clearly defined. The aim of this study was to review the empirical literature for the description of home care as a phenomenon and as a concept, especially with regard to who the care recipients are, what actions and assessments are performed and what effects are achieved for the care recipient in terms of functional health status and quality of life (QoL). Twenty-six relevant studies meeting the inclusion criteria and requirements for methodological quality were identified. The phenomenon of home care is described through content, outcome and objectives. The content of home care involved a range of activities from actions preventing decreased functional abilities in old people to palliative care in advanced diseases. The outcome had two different underlying foci: (1). for the benefit of the patient based on the assumption that being cared at home increases their QoL, (2). in the interests of the society, to minimize hospital care by moving activities to the home of the patient. The objectives were found to be aiming at improving the QoL and/or maintaining independence, by means of actions and assessments, based on the patient's needs, undertaken to preserve and increase functional ability and make it possible for the person to remain at home. In conclusion, home care as a phenomenon was the care provided by professionals to people in their own homes with the ultimate goal of not only contributing to their life quality and functional health status, but also to replace hospital care with care in the home for societal reasons; home care covered a wide range of activities, from preventive visits to end-of-life care.
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