You may hear people using the terms home care and home health interchangeably, but they are in fact two very different things. While they both take place in the comfort of one’s own home, home care is non-clinical, while home health care is clinical.

Home Care

Home care is provided by caregivers, often referred to as home care aides, who are trained to understand the ins and outs of senior care. Home care aides help older adults with daily activities that they need assistance with or to offer companionship. In contrast to home health, home care is classified as personal care or companion care. This falls under “unskilled” or “non-clinical” categories. A doctor’s prescription is not necessary for these services, which are usually paid out of pocket or by a long term care insurance policy.

Typical duties may include:

  • Transportation
  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Reminders to take medication
  • Cleaning
  • Shopping
  • Meal preparation
  • Eating
  • Help paying bills

Home Health Care

Home health care is a form of clinical medical care. It is provided by a registered nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or other skilled medical professional. Usually it is prescribed as part of a care plan after hospitalization. This is typically paid for by Medicaid or Medicare.

Typical services may include:

  • Wound care
  • Medical testing
  • Monitoring health status
  • Administering medication
  • Therapy services
  • Patient education

Common Misconceptions

There are other branches of home health care that may be conducted, it is not only for those recovering from an accident. For example, there is palliative care. It is for patients who face chronic or quality of life-limiting illnesses. The focus of care is to relieve symptoms, pain, and stress. Another type of care would be hospice. Hospice is for patients with a limited life expectancy and are no longer receiving curative treatments. Most people associate hospice with a physical care facility, but it is a type of care that can be conducted from home if chosen.

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