Health at Home


There is a common misunderstanding by many that home care and home health are the same. The difference is that home care is a nonmedical service that provides assistance with activities of daily living, and home health is a medical service providing treatment and care at home for illnesses and injuries.

The options for care and comfort are increasing as our aging population grows, and both home care and home health care are services that assist individuals and families in successful aging at home. Unfortunately, the differences between these services, and many other similar services, is not known or fully understood until the need arises.

Home care and home health both encourage individuals to remain in the comfort of their own homes as they age, but there are key differences you need to know so you can understand your needs, or the needs of your loved ones, when the time comes.
Home care

The goal of home care is to assist and empower an individual to remain independent at home. Home-care providers accomplish this through care that is focused on the individual’s unique needs. Nonmedical caregivers provide assistance with activities of daily living, which can include meal preparation, transportation, running errands, light housekeeping, medication reminders and companionship

The amount of care is directed by the care recipient, family members or a trusted adviser. In addition, the length of service is determined solely by these individuals. Those who receive care are not required to be homebound, and they do not need medical eligibility.

Medicare is not a payment option for home care. Rather, recipients of home-care services have the option of paying privately or through benefits of a long-term-care insurance policy or through veterans’ benefits.

Home health
The goal of home health is to treat an illness or injury that will aid in regaining a person’s strength, independence and self-sufficiency. Some of the services home health provides are physical therapy, occupational therapy, wound care, speech therapy, IV support, injections and the monitoring of serious illnesses. Unlike home care, home health is more medically oriented and requires a physician’s order and that the care recipient is homebound. The length of service for home health is determined by the individual’s diagnosis and need, with visits occurring intermittently, as needed. Finally, Medicare and private insurance are is an acceptable payment methods.

Home care and home health working together
Home care and home health can also work together to care for individuals and their families. By introducing home-health services, along with home care, a client may be able to avoid moving to a skilled nursing facility. The familiar surroundings of home provide a client with the ability to maintain a frame of reference while heor she is receiving both nonmedical and medical care. By joining forces, the home-care agency and the home-health provider can create an environment that promotes comfort and ensures peace of mind.

Bottom line, services provided in the home offer individuals and their families added comfort and reassurance that they and their loved ones can remain in their most comfortable surroundings. By understanding that home care and home health are available, it will be that much easier to be prepared for the future.

Shoshana Krupp is managing partner at Elite HomeCare Services. SCENEior focuses on the benefits and challenges of growing older.

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