During our conversations with the family caregivers we work with in Missouri and Illinois, we are often asked if there is a difference between home care and home health care. It can be confusing to understand, especially since people mistakenly use these terms interchangeably. There is definitely a difference between these two types of in-home care. Home care is typically used to help support a person with a disability or a senior citizen in his or her own home. The services provided by a home care agency are considered non-medical. A home health agency, on the other hand, provides skilled nursing and therapy services. It is typically used when someone has been released from the hospital following an illness or surgery. The information below will give you a more detailed overview of each of these two types of care including what forms of payment are most commonly accepted.

What is Home Health Care?

Skilled nurses and therapists who work for a certified agency deliver home health services. Patients receiving skilled services in their own home might need support with:

  • Wound care and dressing changes
  • Injections or I.V. care
  • Medication management
  • Therapy from a physical, occupational and/or speech therapist

These services are typically provided after a person has had a surgery or been hospitalized for an injury or serious illness.

Most home healthcare agencies are reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies. Private payment is less common for these services. In order for Medicare to cover home health services, the patient must be meet three criteria:

  1.   Be considered homebound where leaving home requires considerable and taxing effort.
  2.   The skilled services must be a medical necessity.
  3.   Patient must have a physician’s order and have a physician’s supervised plan of care.

What is Home Care?

By contrast, the services of a home care agency are designed to help someone with a disability or an older adult safely manage the activities of daily living. Home care is also referred to as private duty care, personal care, and non-medical care.

Home care aides and companions can provide a wide range of services that support independence. They can help with bathing, dressing, and grooming as well as housekeeping, grocery shopping, and meal preparation. Some can also provide medication assistance.

While there are some types of assistance programs available to pay for home care for lower income adults and those with disabilities, the majority of home care services are paid for with private funds.

 Transitioning from Hospital to Home

If someone you love will be transitioning from the hospital to home, a combination of home health and home care might be the best way to meet their needs. Blending the two types of services can allow your loved one to recover and rehabilitate in the privacy and comfort of their own home.

Need help with transition care for your loved one? Contact us at ACM Care and we will be happy to help you.