Poorhouses or almshouses have existed in Scotland since medieval times, principally in burghs. Between 1845 and 1930 over 70 poorhouses were constructed in Scotland, many serving a number of parishes (called 'poor law unions' or 'combinations'). They were built following the Poor Law (Scotland) Act 1845, which established parochial boards in rural parishes and in the towns, and a central Board of Supervision in Edinburgh. The poorhouses were for those categories of paupers who did not receive 'outdoor relief' (normally in the form of small weekly sums of money). The regime, diet and living conditions in poorhouses were austere, partly to discourage applications from those who could rely on family support instead. On the other hand poorhouses provided medical and nursing care of the elderly and the sick, at a time when there were few hospitals and private medical treatment was beyond the means of the poor.