A set of health care, personal care and social services required by persons who have lost, or never acquired, some degree of functional capacity (e.g., the chronically ill, aged, disabled, or retarded) in an institution or at home, on a long-term basis. The term is often used more narrowly to refer only to long-term institutional care such as that provided in nursing homes, homes for the retarded and mental hospitals. Ambulatory services such home health care, which can also be provided on a long-term basis, are seen as alternatives to long-term institutional care.
A range of healthcare services that are regularly used over a long period of time; sometimes over the course of a lifetime. Residence-based services, such as nursing home care, are one of the most common forms of long-term care and are what most individuals and policy makers have in mind when they speak of this type of care.
Encompassing a wide-range of services, no one definition is possible. In general, it refers to a range or a continuum of services to meet the personal, health and social needs of vulnerable individuals whose need(s) will continue and possibly increase over an indeterminate period of time.