Home Health & Home Care – What are the Options?

Home Health Care

by Lisa Parsons, RN, co-owner Hands Thru Us Home Care

Aging can be an eye opening experience. Many years ago, as people aged, they would go to a nursing home due to the lack of access to care at home. Then retirement communities and Assisted Living communities became an option. Now more than ever, Home Health Care and Home Care have become more prevalent as people age. Patients are discharged from hospitals sooner, and they desire to be in their homes longer due to an increased life span. We are currently in the time of caring for the baby boomers, which includes quality care measures as well as measured outcomes to health care.

These measures are a combination of services that are expected to result in positive outcomes, shorter hospital stays, shorter rehabilitation stays, and overall better quality of life. With so many options, all of this is overwhelming and confusing.

Two options of ongoing care are Home Health Care and Home Care. These two options are often confused and the terms are used interchangeably in our culture, but they are two totally different services. The service level is different as well as the approach of establishing care for you or your loved one.

Home Health Care is a skilled care service related to nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, medical social worker, and home health aide assistance. In order to have home health care, you must have a physician’s order for the care and meet other criteria based on your medical insurance. Some criteria may include a new or changed medical condition, difficulty leaving your place of residence, expectation for improvement in your condition, or the need for further medical education for your diagnosis or medication. Home Health is typically short term and based on measurable goals being met.

Home Care is typically a private pay non-skilled option for your in home care needs. These services may be covered if you have a long term care insurance policy. Of course coverage is dependent on the coverage you have elected. Home Care does not require a physician order and there are no eligibility criteria to meet for private pay. Home Care consists of a wide range of services from personal care, companion care, transportation, light housekeeping, to even pet care.

Home Care can be short term from helping for a vacation, one visit to a medical procedure, transportation for chemotherapy, or up to 24 hour care 7 days per week. Home Care can last as long as needed to maintain the quality of life you desire at home. This allows people to stay in the comfort of their own place of residence, where things are familiar. Many times one spouse may need extra care and having additional supplemental services in the home allows that person to keep their loved one in their environment. Home care can also be provided wherever you or your loved one may be located.

Whether that be at home, in the hospital, in rehabilitation after the hospital, Assisted Living, or even in a Skilled Nursing center. The great thing about Home Care is that the care can go wherever you go – even if going on vacation.

Home health and home care, either alone or in combination, can improve a person’s overall wellbeing resulting in positive outcomes and experience wherever you or your loved one may be residing at the time. When looking for either of these care options, you want to consider the level of experience and how the options available for impacting your care, whether short term (temporarily) or long term. These options can truly make a difference in the lives of seniors by improving their quality of living. Our aging population now has more resources to let the hands of others support them during their time of need.