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Home Health Care vs Home Care: What’s the Difference?

Home health care vs in home care: they sound so similar, but they’re not the same and there are some important differences

They sound the same, but are different services

The words “home health care” and “home care” sound so similar, most people assume they’re the same thing. 

But they’re not the same and there are some important differences.

We explain what home health care is, what in-home care is, how they can be used together, and show the similarities and differences in a quick comparison chart.


Home health care is medical care

Home health care is skilled care from medical professionals and requires a written order from a doctor.

This type of care helps older adults recover at home from a serious health issue. 

It’s usually less expensive, more convenient, and as effective as care from a hospital or skilled nursing facility (nursing home).

Services typically include:

  1. At-home physical, occupational, or speech therapy

  2. Monitoring serious illness and unstable health status

  3. Pain management

  4. Injections

  5. Wound care for pressure sores or a surgical wound

  6. Intravenous (IV) or nutrition therapy

In-home care is non-medical care

In-home care services are non-medical and primarily help older adults with activities of daily living and personal care.

The main goal of home care is to keep someone safe and comfortable in their own home. 

Services typically include:

  1. Help with personal grooming, like bathing or getting dressed

  2. Medication reminders

  3. Help with moving around, getting in and out of bed or the shower

  4. Preparing meals

  5. Light housekeeping like washing dishes, vacuuming, or doing laundry

  6. Companionship and friendship


Home health care and in-home care often work together

There are many situations in which in-home care and home health providers work together to help an older adult. 

Someone recovering from a major health event usually needs support with everyday life as well as specialized therapy or nursing-level services to continue their recovery.

For example, here’s how home health and in-home care could work together:

Helping with medication

  1. An in-home caregiver helps your older adult remember to take daily medications

  2. A home health nurse can adjust or change medications as needed

Getting physical therapy

  1. A physical therapist teaches your older adult do therapeutic exercises that will improve their health condition

  2. An in-home caregiver is there to encourage them to do their physical therapy exercises every day, help keep them safe, watch for problems, and let the physical therapist know how the exercises are going

Quick comparison chart: Home health care vs In-home careHome health careIn-home careCompanionship, meal prep, light housekeeping, help with personal grooming and hygiene

what is home health care

Help getting in and out of bed, help to and from the bathroom

home health care and in home care are different

Reminders to take medication

what is home health care

Must be prescribed by a doctor

home health care vs in home care

Covered by Medicare (when prescribed)

in home care

Skilled nursing, wound care, injections, IVs, or pain management at home

home health

Change or adjust medications as needed

home care

At-home visits from a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or speech therapist

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team


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