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A lot of people think home care and home health care are the same thing. While there definitely are some similarities, these services are very different. The confusion often comes from the agencies themselves, which use the terms interchangeably. There are differences between these two types of services based on the state they are located in. Some states have very strict requirements when it comes to these services. Also, the terms sound familiar – so they have to be similar, right?

However, there are many differences between these two services. Knowing them will help you decide which is best for you. Here is a short guide that will help you understand the main differences in the various offerings between home health and in-home care:

Home health care – the definition

Before talking about the differences between these two services, we must precisely understand what they are all about. Let’s start with home health care providers. This type of medical service is provided at home in order to treat chronic health conditions or help the patients recover from injuries, illness or surgical procedures. A lot of patients start using this service after after they are faced with a steep decline in their overall health or after they are diagnosed with serious medical conditions. Also, a lot of patients use home health care agencies after a stay in a specialized nursing facility, a rehab center or a hospital. The main goal of any home health agency is to help patients recover as quickly as possible while offering the best care possible..

Here are several important types of therapy provided by home health care agencies:

  • nursing
  • speech therapy and occupational therapy
  • physical therapy
  • wound care
  • medical social work
  • caregiver and patient education programs
  • help with daily tasks, like dressing, eating or bathing – these services are provided by a home health aide

Home health care services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and various private insurance plans, when the care is ordered by a doctor or a professional nurse practicioner.

In-home care – the definition

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In-home care is defined as the complete set of services provided to patients in order to help them with daily life activities. These services are always provided at home. They are often used by adults with chronic illness, those recovering from surgery or those with severe disabilities. In-home care services are also known as personal care services, homemaker services, custodial care services or companion care services. These terms can be used interchangeably.

Here are some important services offered to in-home care patients:

  • toileting, dressing, grooming, bathing
  • house chores, such as cleaning, washing the dishes
  • cooking and meal preparation
  • transportation
  • companionship
  • medication management and reminders

Usually, in-home care services are paid out of pocket by patients. In specific cases, Medicaid or various private providers will cover the costs for these services.

Similarities between home health care providers and in-home care

As previously discussed, there are some similarities between these two services. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • both services offer care in the comfort and safety of your own home
  • they provide help to adults in order to feel as comfortable and safe as possible
  • you’ll get assistance with daily tasks, like eating, bathing, dressing and grooming
  • these services are less expensive than nursing facility or hospital care

    The differences between home health care and in-home care services

Of course, there are many differences between these services. Let’s take a closer look:

the type of care

  • home health care services include skilled and clinical care, given by therapists and nurses
  • in-home care services include non-skilled, non-clinical care by professional caregivers

    the services provided

  • the services provided by home health care agencies are more medical in nature; although other type of care is provided, like bathing, grooming and dressing, the focus is mainly on therapy and nursing
  • in-home care services provide just basic services, like cooking, grooming, dressing, transportation or cleaning; there are no medical services provided, such as therapy, nursing or wound care treatment

the eligibility

  • typically, if you want to use home health care services, you will need a doctor’s order; the patients will also have to meet various eligibility criteria; for instance, they must have limited mobility or ability to care for themselves
  • in-home care is paid by the patient, out of pocket, so there are no eligibility restrictions; in some cases, these services may be covered by Medicaid or private insurers

the length of care

  • the length of home health care is determined by a medical professional, typically a doctor or a nurse; also, you will have to meet the eligibility requirements for the entire duration of the treatment
  • in-home care may continue for as long as you want, depending on your needs and your budget

paying for the services

  • almost all home health care services are covered by Medicaid, Medicare and various private insurers, for all eligible patients
  • in-home care is paid by the patient, out of pocket; as described above, Medicaid can cover these costs, but only in specific cases

the care team

  • home health care providers – care is provided mainly by doctors and nurses; aides provide basic care;
  • in-home care – professional caregivers provide care for the patients; there are no medical professionals involved

the frequency of care

  • home health agency care consists of regular visits, usually a few hours per week; of course, the visits can be adapted to the patient’s needs or according to the doctor’s orders
  • in-home care is given 24/7 for most patients; these services can obviously be adapted to the patient’s needs, location and available budget

    the location

  • home health agency – typically, care is given at home; however, special medical care can also be given in medical institutions, such as hospitals or nursing homes, depending on the patient’s needs
  • in-home care – this type of care is only given the home or residence of the individual in need