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Home Care Vs. Home Health Care – What’s the Difference (and How Do Medicare and Medicaid Fit In)?

Posted by Anne Hein on May 24, 2017 at 11:41 AM

You’ve probably heard the saying: “Home is where the heart is.” Between the familiarity, the memories and the sense of independence – it’s not a surprise 9 out of 10 older adults want to live in their homes for as long as possible. However, to age in place, seniors often need assistance.

Help may come in many forms – from family and friends to professional services. Here are some of the types of in-home care older adults may need to remain in their homes.

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There are two main types of private (or non-medical) home care: companion and personal. Companion care provides assistance with independent activities of daily living, such as:

  • Transportation to doctor appointments and errands
  • Medication reminders
  • Grocery shopping and meal preparation
  • Light housekeeping and laundry
  • Playing cards, discussing current events and other favorite pastimes

Personal care encompasses companion care as well as physical care such as:

  • Transfers and ambulation (e.g., assistance getting into and out of bed, transferring from wheelchair to toilet)
  • Bathing, hygiene and dressing assistance
  • Incontinence care
  • Feeding assistance

At ComForCare/At Your Side Home Care we also have specialized programs for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. In addition, we incorporate meaningful activities into our client’s daily routines.

Home Health Care

Home health (or skilled nursing) care focuses on medical services performed in the home, such as:

  • Wound care
  • Injections
  • Catheter care
  • IV infusions
  • Physical therapy
  • Ostomy care
  • Monitoring serious and/or chronic illnesses

Home health care can provide care for a short-term basis, such as after a surgical procedure. It also can help people learn how to manage chronic conditions, such as congestive heart failure or COPD. It is common for people to use both home care and home health care at the same time. In fact, the services often complement one another (e.g., a person may need help controlling their diabetes and supplemental in-home services for meal preparation, bathing or companionship care).

What Do Medicare and Medicaid Cover?

Medicare covers short-term home health care prescribed by a physician. These services include skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Assistance with bathing, feeding and other personal care may also be provided while a person is receiving home health care. However, Medicare does not pay for long-term care nor traditional home care services.

ComForCare/At Your Side Home Care is a not Medicare approved provider. Sometimes, individuals need home health care services beyond what is covered by Medicare. ComForCare/At Your Side Home Care can provide extra help at home Medicare does not cover. Certain locations can provide private-duty nursing services beyond the scope of non-medical needs as well.

Medicaid may cover home care services through waiver programs, which vary by state. Contact your local ComForCare/At Your Side Home Care office to see if they participate in a waiver program.

To learn more about home care, download our e-book The Ultimate Home Care Planning Guide. In addition, you can call us at any time at 800-886-4044 to learn more about our services or to schedule a no-obligation in-home consultation.

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Topics: Aging, Home Care Planning

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Each office is independently owned and operated. ComForCare and At Your Side Home Care are equal opportunity employers.