Home Care vs. Home Health Care: What’s the Difference?

When an aging loved one needs care, researching options can be overwhelming. Do they need home health? Do they need home care? What is the difference between the two? Home care offers a range of services so older adults can live at home for as long as possible. Meanwhile, home health care is more suitable if your older loved one has a specific medical need. Read on to learn more about home care vs. home health care, where they are similar, and how to determine the best fit for your needs.

What is Non-Medical Home Care?Non-medical in-home care is supportive care that does not involve medical skills and is provided by caregivers, certified nursing assistants (CNA), or home health aides. This type of home-based care may also go by the following terms: personal care, companion care, homemaker services, respite care, unskilled care, and non-clinical care.

Caregivers provide valuable social interaction, help with light housekeeping, and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as eating, dressing, moving to or from a bed or chair, etc. When interviewing and selecting a home care agency, ensure you are specific about the services you require, as some services require a higher level of assistance and training.

Below is a wide range of home care services that are available:

  • Meal preparation
  • Bathing
  • Toileting
  • Dressing
  • Transfers i.e.: assisting or moving a client from one place to another
  • Light housekeeping
  • Transportation
  • Companionship

What Is Home Health Care?

Home health care is medical and is also known as clinical or skilled care. A prescription from a doctor may be required to obtain these services, which are provided by healthcare professionals, such as registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and physical, occupational, and speech-language therapists. Home health care is often short-term, and care depends on eligibility, care needs, and the doctor’s direction.

Below is a wide range of home health care services that are available:

  • IV and injection administration
  • Medication management
  • Health status monitoring
  • Test administration
  • Pain management
  • Wound care
  • Patient education

Similarities Between Home Care and Home Health Care

To understand the difference between home care and home health care, it helps to know the similarities:

  • Clients maintain their current level of independence while the caregiver or skilled nurse ensures their safety.
  • Care is tailored to the specific needs of the client.
  • Both services can help with bathing, grooming, and dressing.
  • Both may provide reminders to take medication.
  • Both are less expensive than care in a facility or hospital.

Paying for Home Care vs. Home Health Care

Home health care falls under medical services, while home care involves daily personal assistance. Insurance tends to cover these types of care accordingly:

  • Medicare and private insurance plans cover home health when prescribed by a physician. Ask your loved one’s doctor about home health if you think it would be beneficial. This service is available to any senior who qualifies for Medicare.
  • Medicaid covers both types of care for income-qualified seniors, though coverage amounts vary by state.
  • Private Pay is common for home care but is only necessary for home health that a physician has not ordered.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance only covers home care if it is included in your loved one’s plan. Check with their insurance agent for specifics.
  • Veteran Affairs Assistance is a program for Veterans who need personal care services and help with activities of daily living.