Origins: e Poor Law Workhouse from 1601 Forms of institutional care for the needy in England, including the destitute, sick or disabled elderly, can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when monastic communities ran in rmary almshouses for the sick and houses of pity for the destitute. is ended with the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII between 1536 and 1539, but was revived in di erent form with the establishment rst of poor houses or houses of correction and later with the 1834 Poor Law.1 By that date voluntary hospitals were providing medical care for the acute sick poor, but not longer-term institutional care for the chronic sick or in rm, including the elderly.2 e latter, along with paupers of all ages, sometimes received alms or were granted allowances or indoor relief, increasingly in the ‘mixed’ workhouses established by the 1834 Poor Law. It was not until the early twentieth century that the special needs of older people were acknowledged, with more places provided and separate legislation.