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The Differences Between Home Care and Home Health

Though similar in name “Home Care” and “Home Health” are distinct services.  Understanding these differences supports informed and educated decisions about having these services in the home.

What service is offered?

Home Care is a customizable service for anyone who needs assistance with household duties and self-care, wherever they reside. Caregivers provide assistance with a variety of tasks: 

  • Transportation and errands
  • Managing the kitchen and meals
  • Light house-keeping duties
  • Assistance with mobility
  • Personal hygiene assistance
  • Medication reminders
  • Meaningful companionship
  • Following a physician’s orders

Home Health provides intermittent, short-term care through Medicare.  The temporary services are provided in the patients home and are sometimes referred to as “skilled nursing” or “skilled care”.

They type of home health depends the physician’s orders.  Generally, the temporary services are centered around skilled nursing and therapies such as wound care or physical therapy. Some patients may qualify to receive limited support with tasks like bathing, toileting and dressing, however, Home Health does NOT assist with meals, errands, housekeeping, or medication reminders.

Who receives care & how is it payed for?

Home Care serves a wide range of clients.  Many older adults only need a little help each week to remain independent at home.   Some clients may need daily assistance or night care. 

Memory care, full-time care and bedside care are available for clients with complex care needs. Some clients receive short-term care following a procedure, hospitalization, or illness. Generally, home care is paid for privately or through long-term care insurance.

The patient criteria for receiving Home Health services are:

  • Enrolled in Medicare
  • Considered homebound
  • Requires skilled care
  • Care is orders by a physician

Often, Home Health service is implemented after a hospitalization. Occasionally, service is implemented to help stabilize an acute or chronic condition. Home health services are paid by Medicare, service, however, is temporary not ongoing.

What amount of care is Available?

Home Care is available 4 hours once a week to 24 hours per day. Care can be scheduled days, nights, and weekends, on a temporary or ongoing basis. Most clients choose to have a consistent weekly schedule.

Physicians determine how much Home Health a patient receives. Visits are once per month to daily and may be fifteen minutes to two hours. Care stops when a condition improves, stabilizes or plateaus.  Generally, services complete in 60 days or less.