Home Care or Home Health Care…What’s the Difference?

By Toni Ameslav, MSW, Staff Social Worker

Families often ask us for help setting up home health care for a family member, when they actually want to set up home care, so I thought it would be helpful to give a brief overview of the difference between the two.

Home Care

Home care is assistance provided with activities of daily living, such as meal preparation, transportation and light housework, as well as non-medical personal care tasks like shower and dressing help and assistance with transfers from bed to chair or bed to walker.

These services can be provided by a caregiver from a licensed home care agency or by a private individual hired by an individual or family to provide these services. Home care services are usually paid for privately, although some long-term care policies cover home care. They are never covered by Medicare. Most agencies require a minimum number of hours per shift, usually four hours. Costs vary widely among home care agencies so comparison shopping is important.

It’s important to use a licensed home care agency that provides oversight of its employees and will be responsible for their wages and benefits. If you hire a caregiver privately through word of mouth or other means, be sure to check their references carefully. You may be able to negotiate an hourly rate with them and not be dependent on a certain number of hours per shift.

For low-income individuals who meet financial criteria and have at least two non-medical personal care needs, the state of Washington pays for a certain number of hours per month of caregiving from a home care agency or individual, depending on the individual’s needs. This requires an application process, and our social workers can assist with this process.

Home Health Care

Home health care is a Medicare-covered service provided in an individual’s home, usually following surgery, injury, hospitalization or a stay in a skilled nursing facility. Medicaid also covers home health care for people who qualify. You must be on Medicare Part A and/or Part B or have private insurance that pays for home health care. Home health care must be ordered by a physician and can include intermittent nurse visits, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, social work and a home health aide for bathing.

To qualify for home health care, an individual must be homebound according to Medicare rules, have a skilled need and be under the care of a physician. Individuals are initially certified for 60 days and can be recertified for another 60 day period if they still have a skilled need at the end of 60 days. Skilled needs include physical therapy for rehab following a hip replacement, wound care, tube feeding or skilled nursing for sterile dressing changes.

Home health care is generally short-term, and an individual must be showing improvement or decline in order to be recertified. If a home health care patient stabilizes, they will be discharged from home health services. Home health care does not include home care services like meal prep and non-medical personal care, except for shower assist by a home care bath aide.

If you have questions about home care or home health care, please contact one of our social workers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nursing facility. Medicaid also covers home health care for people who qualify. You must be on Medicare Part A and/or Part B or have private insurance that pays for home health care. Home health care must be ordered by a physician and can include intermittent nurse visits, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, social work and a home health aide for bathing.

 

To qualify for home health care, an individual must be homebound according to Medicare rules, have a skilled need and be under the care of a physician. Individuals are initially certified for 60 days and can be recertified for another 60 day period if they still have a skilled need at the end of 60 days. Skilled

needs include physical therapy for rehab following a hip replacement, wound care, tube feeding or skilled nursing for sterile dressing changes.

 

Home health care is generally short-term, and an individual must be showing improvement or decline in order to be recertified. If a home health care patient stabilizes, they will be discharged from home health services. Home health care does not include home care services like meal prep and non-medical personal care, except for shower assist by a home care bath aide.

 

If you have questions about home care or home health care, please contact one of our social workers.