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What is the difference between "home health care" and "home care"?

Welcome to our new blog post from the Center for Movement Challenges. Our social worker, Lynn Ross, will be answering your questions here weekly, so if you have any questions regarding life with any movement challenge, please send them in. Lynn has been involved with the Parkinson's community since 2007 and continues to stay informed regarding best practices and resources, locally and nationally. If your question is beyond her scope of expertise, she will contact the professionals she knows to help find an answer. Lynn believes “knowledge is power," she enjoys empowering those living with PD and other movement challenges and their families. If a question is troubling you or your care partner, please “Ask Lynn Anything” by emailing and look for an answer here.

What is the difference between "home health care" and "home care"?

The terms "home health care" and "home care" sound similar but serve different purposes.

Briefly, these are the differences:

Home health care is skilled care from medical professionals and requires a written order from a physician. This type of care is primarily used after a hospital or rehab stay because many people with PD become deconditioned and can recover better at home. It's usually less expensive, more convenient, and as effective as a hospital or skilled nursing center (nursing home) care.

Services typically include:

· At-home physical, occupational, or speech therapy

· Monitoring serious illness and unstable health status

· Pain management

· Injections

· Wound care for pressure sores or a surgical wound

· Intravenous (IV) or nutrition therapy

In-home care is non-medical care.

In-home care services are non-medical and primarily help with activities of daily living and personal care. The main goal of home care is to keep someone safe and comfortable in their own home. It also allows the primary care partner time to take care of other obligations or themselves.

Services typically include:

· Help with personal grooming (bathing and dressing), eating, toileting and transfers

· Medication reminders

· Preparing meals

· Light housekeeping like washing dishes, vacuuming, or doing laundry

· Companionship and friendship

Home health care and in-home care often work together. There are many situations in which in-home care and home health providers work together to help someone living with PD. Recovering from a significant health event usually needs support with everyday life and specialized therapy or nursing-level services to continue recovery.

For example, here's how home health and in-home care could work together:

Helping with medication

· An in-home caregiver helps them remember to take daily medications

· A home health nurse can adjust or change medications as needed

Getting physical therapy

· A physical therapist teaches them to do therapeutic exercises to improve their health.

· An in-home caregiver is there to encourage them to do physical therapy exercises daily, help keep them safe, watch for problems, and let the physical therapist know how the exercises are going.

One significant difference between these services is payment. Home health care has limited coverage provided by Medicare and some private insurance, while skilled services are needed. Assistance with personal care is limited to the time professional therapies are used. When treatment ends, so does the in-home help with personal care.

Home care is paid for "out-of-pocket" or by long-term care insurance.

This is a very brief, simplified explanation between the two. Don't hesitate to get in touch with me with any further questions.

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