If you’re looking for caregiving assistance either in your own home or that of a loved one, you’re going to run across two similar terms: non-medical home care and home health care. To further confuse things, you might hear them shortened to home care and home health—or even called by a number of other names.
The names can be confusing. However, it’s important for you to know the distinctions between the two. That’s because this will help ensure you obtain the type of care that is really needed and also define if or how you will be paying for it.
What is non-medical home care?
Non-medical home care is caregiving assistance that helps with activities of daily living (ADLs). You also might hear it referred to as:
- Personal care
- Companion care
- Homemaker services
- Custodial care
- Unskilled care
- Non-clinical care
The ADLs a home care aide can assist with include:
- Light housework
- Meal preparation
- Medication reminders
- Mobility assistance
Home care is generally paid for out-of-pocket (although long-term care insurance, the VA or Medicaid may help pay for it) and averages around $18 an hour. As there is generally a minimum requirement of three-to-four hours, you might be looking at a minimum cost of $54 to $72 a day.
While home care services can certainly be of benefit if you or a loved one is recovering from illness or injury and have limited mobility, home care professionals are generally not able to administer medications or change dressings. That’s where home health care comes in.
What is home health care?
Home Health Care, on the other hand, helps with specific medical concerns (such as wound care management or physical rehabilitation) and generally requires a prescription from a physician. You may also hear it referred to as:
- Clinical care
- Skilled care
Unlike a home care aide who may have no specific medical training and only deal with ADLs, a home health aide may be a:
- Licensed practical nurse
- Registered nurse
- Occupational, speech or a physical therapist
As a result of their specialized training, they may also be referred to as:
- Nurse aides
- Nursing assistants
- Certified nursing assistants
- Geriatric aides
While a home health care aide may assist with any or all of the ADLs that a home care aide can provide, they may also:
- Administer medication (including IVs and injections)
- Assist patients with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia
- Assist with recovery from illness or injury
- Care for wounds such as pressure sores or surgical incisions
- Offer expertise in specific medical conditions (like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia)
- Manage diabetes through glucose monitoring and insulin injections
- Manage pain medications
- Monitor medical equipment
- Monitor vital signs
The benefits of receiving home health care are that it is usually less expensive (as it may be paid for my insurance), can be as effective as care received during a stay at a hospital or skilled nursing facility (either inpatient or outpatient) and is just as convenient as non-medical home care.
Although they sound the same, there is a big difference between non-medical home care and home health care—in both the services they offer and the costs involved. If you know the difference, you can more easily make the best choice in your journey along the gray mile.