Why misunderstanding Home Health Care could leave you lacking

There are a lot of terms floating around in the senior care industry. ‘Home Health Care’ and ‘Home Care’ tend to get used almost interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.

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home health careHome Health Care is usually specific care that is ordered by a healthcare provider and covered by most medical insurance. It can be nurse visits a few times per week for up to an hour at a time, physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), or speech therapy (ST). You might also receive short visits from a certified nurse’s assistant (CNA) for tasks like bathing and hygiene tasks. If sent as part of Home Health Care, a CNA will give you a bath, take care of necessary hygiene tasks, and then leave. Home Health Care providers will only be in the home for brief periods, not hours at a time. In addition to being brief visits, Home Health Care is generally short-term care that is not intended to continue for an extended time. It is intended to cover tasks that are primarily medical in nature and doesn’t really cover most day-to-day living activities.

Home Care, on the other hand, can be short-term or 24-hours a day, seven days a week. A care plan will be established cooperatively between the client, family, and registered nurse overseeing the case. It should describe exactly what care and services a client is to receive. Caregivers can assist with activities such as bathing, dressing, toileting, feeding, meal preparation, laundry, light housekeeping, and driving to doctors appointments. There are a wide variety of tasks that caregivers can get help with in a home care setting. I’ve seen aides help my mother prepare her Christmas cards and wrap presents. They fed the cats and changed the litter boxes. They drove her to the store to go shopping whenever she wanted to go.

The reality is that home care is largely non-medical in nature, however it does help persons live a better quality of life and stay where they are. Clients or their families usually pay for home care costs themselves (this is referred to as private pay). In some states, it is possible to receive home care through the Veterans Administration and Medicaid. In North Carolina there is a waiting list to receive Home Care with Medicaid, and funding has been cut drastically.

Clients often choose to receive both Home Care and Home Health Care at the same time, so that their needs can be covered entirely.