Home Care or Home Health Care: Which Is Right for You?

Guest article provided by: stayhomecare.com

Care at home isn’t something most people think about until the need arises. Yet when that time comes, families are often in crisis mode, scrambling to quickly get up to speed on the different types of services in order to determine the best solution. One of the most confusing aspects is the difference between home care and home health care. While these terms sound similar, there are distinct differences that are important to understand.

What Is Home Care?

Home care encompasses a variety of different types of services that are all non-medical in nature. It’s appropriate for someone who:

  • Needs assistance with activities of daily living and personal hygiene needs
  • Lives alone and could benefit from companionship and other supportive services
  • Is challenged by the effects of dementia and experiencing specialized care needs
  • May be unsafe in their current living arrangements
  • Or any similar situations where help is neededNeeds help to continue living at home

Some of the types of services offered by a home care provider include:

  • Planning and preparing meals
  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • Running errands, such as grocery shopping and picking up prescriptions
  • Transportation and accompaniment 
  • Medication reminders (without actually administering medications)
  • Companionship
  • Personal care, such as help with baths/showers, getting dressed, etc.

Home care services are typically paid for out of pocket and are not covered by Medicare. However, there are additional options to pay for care, including long-term care policies, veterans’ benefits, and Medicaid, if a provider is Medicaid-certified.

It’s important for families to choose carefully when hiring an in-home caregiver. Hiring someone independently, such as by answering an ad or through the referral of a friend, means that the individual becomes the caregiver’s employer. That means being responsible for payroll taxes, workers’ compensation, liability insurance, and more. Not only that, but it opens up additional concerns, such as what happens if the caregiver becomes ill or goes on vacation; who will provide backup care? And has the caregiver been background-checked to ensure safety? What about training?

Families who work through a professional home care agency will receive a caregiver who is an employee of the agency, so all of the necessary taxes and insurance are taken care of. Their caregivers have also been interviewed, screened, vetted, and ideally, trained. Often they will also be specifically matched to the person in need of care based on compatible personality type, interests, likes/dislikes, etc. 

What Is Home Health Care?

Unlike home care, home health care services cover skilled medical care needs, at the direction of a referring physician. Home health care can be helpful for someone who:

  • Is recovering from a surgical procedure or hospitalization and wants to remain at home
  • Has a chronic health condition that requires ongoing medical care
  • Wants to avoid staying in a rehab facility or nursing home for convenience, comfort, or cost-savings

Home health care is provided by a nurse, therapist, or other skilled professional, and can include services such as:

  • Infusions and injections
  • Physical, occupational, or speech therapy
  • Wound care
  • Nutrition therapy
  • Pain management
  • Blood draws
  • Vital signs monitoring
  • Medication administration
  • Health status monitoring

Home health care that is physician-ordered is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance plans.

How Home Care and Home Health Services Can Work Together

Home care and home health care are often recommended in conjunction with each other to provide a full range of services for someone needing care at home. For instance, someone recovering from hip replacement surgery will need nursing care as well as physical therapy, yet could also use help with housework, meals, and transportation. A senior with Parkinson’s may receive occupational therapy services to strengthen fine motor skills, while enjoying the companionship an in-home caregiver can provide. 

As an award-winning provider of home care in Brentwood, TN and the surrounding areas, Stay Home Care is on hand to help families determine whether their needs can be best met through home care, home health care, or a combination of the two. Contact us at 615-964-7726 to learn more.

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