People often confuse home health care agencies with home care agencies. While some of their functions and tasks may be similar, there are key differences. The biggest difference being that home health care is essentially medical or clinical care and home care is non-medical care. Home health care is typically provided by a skilled medical practitioner such as a registered nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or other medical professional while home care is given typically by caregivers. Home health care services can also include non-clinical tasks.
Home health care is a vital service used by thousands of people each day who require medical care and monitoring but not so much as to require them to be in a hospital. People who use home health care may include patients who are recovering from a hospital stay, people who are chronically ill or terminally ill, and people who are disabled. Home health care is often less expensive, more convenient than, and just as effective as the type of care you get in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF).
Doctor’s orders are needed to start care. Once your doctor refers you for home health services, the home health agency will schedule an appointment and come to your home to talk to you about your needs and ask you some questions about your health. Home health care agencies care for patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly.
Services provided by home health care agencies can include:
- Rehabilitation therapies including physical, occupational & speech-language
- Medical social services and counseling
- Home health aide services
- Infusion therapy
- Behavioral and mental health counseling
- Hospice and palliative care
- Home medical equipment
- Educational advice
- Wound care
- Pain management / Administering medications
- Home safety review and instructions
- And more…
Please note that different states have different requirements with how home health agencies are regulated. Be sure to thoroughly vet any agency you plan on hiring. Your doctor or hospital should have a list of recommendations. You can also check here for Medicare ratings.