What is the difference between Home Care and Home Health Services?

Home Care Services and Home Health Services are two great options for seniors that need extra care in the home.  However, the two different types of services can be confusing for the average consumer.  As our population ages, using home care services is becoming very popular.  Although Home Care and Home Health Care sound very familiar, they are actually two different services.

What is Home Health Care?

Home Health services are delivered in the home or assisted living facility by licensed nurses, physical, occupational, and speech therapists, medical social workers, and home health aides.  You may be referred for any of these services by a physician, hospital discharge planner, family member, friend, or you may refer yourself.  However, all care is provided under your physician’s direction.

Who pays for Home Health Care?

Home Health Care is medically focused.  Therefore, it is covered by Medicare and other types of health insurance.  However, under the Medicare guidelines, the patient must have orders from a physician for care and be considered homebound.  The term “homebound” means that it is a taxing effort for the patient to leave the home.   While a patient receives nursing and or therapy services in the home, Medicare allows the services of a home health aide.  The aide will be able to provide a few non-medical services such as bathing and dressing.

How long does Home Health Care last?

Home Health Care usually last a few weeks until all of the medical goals are met.  A reputable Medicare certified agency should explain the eligibility criteria upon admission.  Most seniors are anxious to meet their goals since the homebound status is a requirement of reimbursement.

How do I find a reputable Home Health Care agency?

By Medicare guidelines, all certified home care agencies must publish their quality outcomes.  The information is public and can be accessed by the internet.  For comparisons of Home Health Care agencies in your area follow the link:  http://www.medicare.gov/homehealthcompare/

What about Home Care or Private Duty?

Home Care or private duty services offer non-medical care to individuals who would like to receive extra care in the comfort of their home.  The fee for pay services is perfect for those who may need assistance with every day activities of living such as personal care, medication reminders, meal preparation, or just companionship.  A reputable home care or private duty agency often employs certified nursing aides.  In addition, a reputable agency will also have an RN on staff that will monitor changes in a client’s status.  Under the umbrella of home care or private duty, the market has many providers.  When selecting a home care or private duty agency, here are ten key questions to ask during the phone interview:

  • What area do you serve?  (Ask for references from your neighborhood)
  • Are your caregivers employees or sub-contracted? (Employees are covered by liability laws of the state and have also been through background checks by their employers)
  • What type of training do your caregivers receive?
  • What is the dress code and uniform policy?
  • What type of personal care is offered?
  • How do they answer concerns after normal business hours?
  • Do they offer a complimentary home assessment?
  • Who can you contact for references?
  • What is their cancellation policy?
  • What are the rates for care?  (Do they offer a bundle discount?  Do they accept long term insurance coverage?  Is there a Veterans Discount?)

Today, finding a reputable Home Care company and Home Health company can be stressful when caring for an aging parent.  However, a reputable Home Care and or Home Health Care company can significantly improve the quality of your loved one’s life in their own home at an affordable cost.

 
 
 

About the author

I am passionate about sharing senior citizen news and resources discovered from both my profession and personal journey.

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