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How do Home Health Services Differ from Home Care Services?

By KC Ferk, RN, BSN | Home Health Program Director

Photo of home health care worker providing home care

Distinguishing between Home Health services and regular Home Care services can be difficult. At Accra, our focus is on providing quality care for all of our clients in their homes.

To each of our clients, this means something different, and Accra works hard to provide specialized services to each individual depending on their needs.

To paint a broader picture of what our services look like and help you determine what services you need, we’re diving into the differences between Home Care and Home Health Services.

What is Home Health Care?

Home Health Care is medical care, also known as skilled care, provided by a licensed professional such as a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse. Additionally, services provided under Home Health Care include Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy.

A home health aide may also be recommended to assist with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as assistance with transfers, bathing, grooming and dressing. 

Home Health Care is prescribed by a physician, and services may be covered under Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans for eligible clients. This type of care may continue as long as your doctor certifies you and you continue to meet eligibility. 

What conditions are treated with Home Health Care?

The overarching goal of Home Health Care is to keep individuals safe, while helping them recover, and to monitor and treat acute and chronic conditions. This type of specialized care helps clients remain as independent as possible, while living in the comfort of their own homes.

All home health services are provided by a Medicare-Certified agency, such as Accra, which provide the clinical staff that come to the client’s home. 

Home Health Care is provided to treat many different types of conditions, ranging from acute or chronic illnesses, to recovery from an injury or surgery. Examples include suffering from a chronic condition such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or diabetes; facing a medical decline or a new diagnosis; or returning home after a hospital stay and still requiring some form of medical care.

Clinician visits are typically one to three times per week depending on a patient’s specific needs and physician orders. All of this care is provided in a client’s home, assisted living facility or a group home.

What specific skilled services and therapies are included in Home Health Care?

Under Home Health Care services, if the physician or Nurse Practitioner orders skilled nurse visits, they may focus on:

  • managing disease symptoms;
  • administering any necessary treatments or medications;
  • drawing labs;
  • executing ostomy and catheter care; and
  • coordinating care with one’s health care team.

A variety of therapies may be included under Home Health Care services. Physical therapy may focus on a home exercise program to regain movement and strength to a body area, as well as training on how to use special equipment or execute daily activities, such as how to get in and out of a wheelchair or bathtub.

Occupational therapy may focus on assisting an individual with learning how to complete everyday activities on their own. One might also learn new ways to eat, put on clothes, groom and other daily activities.

Therapy can also assess and provide recommendations for the need of handrails, grab bars, environmental modifications, such as moving furniture or rearranging kitchen items, and other modifications to make life safer and more accessible for the client. 

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

The terms Home Health Care and Home Care are often used interchangeably, but they are not quite the same thing.

Home Health Care refers to skilled care, whereas Home Care refers to personal care, companion care, homemaker services, custodial care, unskilled or non-clinical care. 

The main differences between Home Health Care and Home Care are the type of services each provides. Home Health Care provides medical care, and Home Care provides non-medical care.  

Other differences include:

  • Home Health Care may be covered under Medicare, Medical Assistance and most insurance plans. Home Care may be paid by Medical Assistance dollars – if the service falls under a Department of Human Services program, such as personal care attendant services (PCA) or waivered services. It could also be paid directly by the client or long-term care insurance under other Home Care licensures.
  • Home Health Care is limited by eligibility requirements and physician orders, but Home Care can continue as long as you need, based upon Medical Assistance authorization. If you opt for private pay services, the length of care may depend on what you can afford.
  • Home Care can provide assistance in your own home and doesn’t require an acute or chronic condition; a recent hospitalization, injury or surgery; or the eligibility requirements of Home Health Care. Essentially, Home Care focuses on providing clients with assistance in their daily activities of living.

What types of services does one receive with Home Care?

Professional caregivers (home health aides), under the direction and supervision of a Registered Nurse, can assist with:

  • personal cares,
  • cooking,
  • laundry,
  • shopping,
  • cleaning,
  • organizing,
  • shopping,
  • errands,
  • companionship,
  • socialization and managing medications.

Personal care tasks include assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, ambulation and transferring.

When you receive services from a Home Health Care agency, Home Health Aides are also provided directly by the agency. Currently, we are facing a workforce shortage directly affecting the availability of home health aides.

Thus, many clients elect to use Accra’s PCA (Personal Care Assistant) Choice program, which allows clients to recruit a family member, friend or neighbor who may already be providing care to them. If they qualify, they can be hired as an Accra employee and receive the training necessary to be paid to provide services to the client in their home.

Accra specializes in both Home Care and Home Health services. Learn more about our services, If you or someone you know may be interested in Accra’s programs.