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Home Health vs Home Care: The Ultimate Differences

Home Health vs Home Care: The Ultimate Differences

To most people, hearing the terms ‘home health’ and ‘home care’ brings up one image: caregiving in the home setting. While these phrases are interchangeable, they carry different meanings and are separate health concepts.

What is the difference between home health vs home care? If a loved one requires assistance, which service is more suitable? You can learn about the key distinctions and other important comparisons with other terminologies. This guide is an overview of home health vs home care and what you should know.

Explaining home health

Home health care is a type of medical service provided by a licensed professional for clients who require at-home assistance. It falls under the guidelines stipulated in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulations.

Typically short-term, home health typically involves intermittent care classified as skilled nursing services, therapy, wound care, and more. The registered home health expert possesses specialized training in fields like physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy, among others.

In home health vs home care, the former focuses on medical services aiding the patient’s recovery. It mostly applies to clients who need to transition to at-home care after a hospital or facility stay.

The primary goal of this caregiving service is to promote client independence as soon as possible. It can include providing education to both the patient and personal care aide.

Explaining home care

Home care, or in-home care as it is commonly referred to, covers the non-medical services provided by a trained caregiver. Mostly applied to older adults, this type of healthcare involves assisting the client with their daily activities. The goal is to ensure that the patient’s safety and other specific needs are met.

People with disabilities, chronic illness, or are undergoing post-surgery recovery can avail themselves of home care services. For this reason, the terms ‘personal care’, ‘custodial care’, or ‘companion care’, can also indicate this type of caregiving function. In home health vs home care, the latter is overseen by a non-licensed caregiver.

Explaining home care

Since the duties of the home care expert are non-medical, they mostly handle day-to-day activities and tasks. Some of the most common services include bathing and grooming, meal preparation, and medication reminders. It can also include housekeeping, transportation, and companionship, depending on the patient’s needs.

Home health vs home care: similarities and differences

There’s a fine line dividing home care vs home health, and it’s best to investigate them in detail. To learn these services better, you must understand what concepts are alike or unalike between the two.


Home health and home care are not far from each other when it comes to some factors. In fact, there are several parallels that explain why some people interchange these terms. Here are a few of them.

  • Home setting. In home health vs home care, the common denominator is care given at the client’s home. These caregiving services aim to deliver assistance that makes recovery a more comfortable and safer experience.
  • Independence. Both home-based healthcare services can work to make the client feel better. They also enable the older adult to bring back and maintain their independence when performing activities of daily living or ADLs.
  • Assistance. Professionals in both fields actively help the client with their day-to-day tasks. These undertakings may include grooming, dressing, bathroom support, and more.
  • Expense. Both forms of caregiving are often less costly than staying in a hospital or facility. In general, there is a remarkable difference in the cost of home care and home health care vs nursing home.


Along with the commonalities, there are key differences between home health vs home care. You can read these pointers to learn what makes these concepts distinct from one another.

  • Services. Home health care has a medical inclination, whereas home care involves non-medical aspects of caregiving. That means the services for home health are usually more complex and require specialized knowledge and training. On the other hand, home care helps with daily non-medical tasks and excludes therapy or nursing.
  • Length of care. Home health care is typically short-term—if the doctor sees the need for it, the services will continue. For home care, the client or their family can extend the length of care based on their needs and budget. How long the services persist is one of the key differences between home health vs home care.
  • Eligibility. The type of service for each concept dictates the eligibility that the professional must possess. Since home health care falls under the doctor’s orders, a licensed practitioner must provide it. They are either a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN). They could also be licensed therapists. Home care, in contrast, is undertaken by a trained personal care aide.
  • Payment. Patients can become eligible for home health care services so long as their medical practitioner certifies it. These services can be covered by Medicaid or Medicare, or other private insurance plans. On the other hand, home care is often shouldered by the client.

Differentiating the home health care professional and home care aide

RNs, LPNS, and licensed therapists usually take over the role of a home healthcare professional. They are highly eligible and qualified to deliver medical services within the scope of home health. What these experts have in common is that they can work in the hospital setting and are capable of handling complex medical cases.

On the contrary, a home care or personal care aide (PCA) can assist the client with daily living. However, they cannot perform medical-related services since they do not have the degree or license to do so. In home health vs home care, a PCA has limited roles to perform compared to licensed home healthcare providers.

Differentiating the home health care professional and home care aide

Still, home care aides typically undergo training relevant to client’s needs such as senior care. For instance, they may attend a program that addresses dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. They can learn about the signs and symptoms of the condition and identify the assistance a client may require daily.

Home health care experts can also perform ADLs like a home care aide can. They often work as a team, especially if the patient needs assistance for various concerns like mobility, speech, and more.


Home health care vs hospice: are they different?

There is a blaring difference between hospice and home health—it all lies in the purpose. Home health vs home care is one thing, but hospice vs home health is a comparison that needs in-depth understanding.

Home health care promotes recovery, with the goal of providing curative assistance. The intention is to help the client recover from their condition and steadily regain their functionality. In contrast, hospice delivers comfort for patients suffering from advanced illnesses. This setup is recommendable when curative treatments don’t work anymore.

Is palliative care more complex than home health vs home care?

What is palliative care vs home health? These concepts strongly consider the condition of the patient. Home health care centers on the recuperation and rehabilitation of the client. Palliative care, on the other hand, includes measures to improve the quality of life of a seriously ill patient.

If the individual’s illness worsens to the terminal stages, the medical team advances to a hospice type of care. In this progression, the focus shifts from being curative to providing support and comfort for the time that remains.

Is there a difference between home health care vs assisted living?

In home health vs home care, the key difference is the inclusion of medical services. For home health care vs assisted living, there are several comparisons to consider. For one, in-home care mainly takes place at the client’s home. In assisted living, the senior resides in a facility aptly built to ensure their safety.

Basically, assisted living provides both housing and caregiving services to older adults who cannot live independently. Nursing care tasks are not usually included in assisted living, although some communities may enable third-party services to meet medical needs.

What is resumption of care vs eval in home health?

Resumption of care or ROC is an order containing the care plan for the client’s existing certification period. If the patient comes back from a hospital stay of over 24 hours, they undergo an assessment to ensure recertification of their home health care.

How is a home health aide vs home care aide different?

Caregivers in the home health vs home care setting can be identified based on the services they provide. A home health aide is like the home care aide in that they assist the client with ADLs. However, they also perform healthcare-related tasks. PCAs guides patients with their daily tasks and may also perform housekeeping activities.

Key takeaways

Providing care and assistance to clients riddled with a debilitating condition is a job for highly trained individuals. You can rely on these home health professionals or personal care aides to deliver the care plan according to a patient’s needs. It’s safe to say that these caregivers have the necessary skills and experience to handle cases efficiently.

If you need to decide between home health vs home care, it’s crucial to seek professional input regarding this matter. This guide is a good starting point to help you understand the similarities and discrepancies of each concept.


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