Question of the Day: "What is the difference between home health care and home care?"

Answer:  The short answer is “medical services”.  Home health care is normally the result of hospitalization or time spent in rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility.  It is short-term care provided to help a patient transition back home.  Normally, home health care will last four to eight weeks, and the typical services that will be included, as a result of a doctor’s order, are provided by one or more of the following:

  1. Registered Nurse.  This may include wound care, for example, for someone suffering from a pressure ulcer (bed sore).
  2. Physical Therapist.  A patient recovering from a fall or surgery may need guided physical exercise to regain some lost mobility.
  3. Speech Therapist.  For example, a stroke victim may lose some ability to communicate verbally (aphasia).
  4. Occupational Therapist.  The focus may or may not be on the ability to perform a job.  Skills in this area are defined broadly (see below).
  5. Home Health Aide.  This person is normally focused on assistance with bathing services, which may also be provided in non-medical home care.

 Home care is typically non-medical in nature.  It is focused on what are called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental ADLs:

ADLs include:

  1. Personal hygiene and grooming
  2. Dressing and undressing
  3. Feeding oneself
  4. Functional transfers, e.g. Getting out of bed
  5. Voluntarily controlling urinary and fecal discharge
  6. Elimination
  7. Ambulation (Walking or using a wheelchair)

Instrumental ADLs include:

  1. Housework
  2. Meal Preparation
  3. Taking medications
  4. Managing money
  5. Shopping for groceries or clothing
  6. Telephone use
  7. Using technology (as applicable)

Occupational Therapists focus on Instrumental ADLs, as well as other skills.

Quite often, non-medical home care is long-term, as clients with dementia or other chronic illnesses are not expected to return to the state of health at which their ability to perform ADLs and IADLs improves dramatically.

Both types of home care are really critical to the well-being of the patient or client.  They are complimentary and often go hand-in-hand.

Bert Cave
President of Support For Home
Sacramento, California  95825
Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, California chapter

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