The Ultimate Guide to Home Health Care vs Home Care Skip to content

Choosing Between Home Health Care and Home Care

Published: Dec 29, 2022. Last Updated: Jan 6, 2023.

Home health care and home care are two terms often used interchangeably, they may be similar but they actually differ in several key ways. While these two services are both delivered at home, the type of care offered is very different.

Let's go over their differences to help you understand which service might be best for your or your loved one's situation.

Home Health Care

Home health care encompasses a wide range of services that focus on providing medical treatment, support and other clinical services at home. After a serious decline in health due to an injury or being diagnosed with a dangerous illness, you might begin to receive home health care. Oftentimes, this transition occurs after you have spent time in places such as a hospital, rehabilitation center, or skilled nursing facility.

This service is more affordable, accessible, and just as effective as treatments received in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Home health care providers are licensed medical staff that can offer skilled nursing care, specialized therapies, laboratory services, medical social work and other necessary supplies.

Home health care services include but are not limited to:

  • Nursing
  • Physical, speech, or occupational therapy
  • Intravenous or nutrition therapy
  • Medical social work
  • Wound care for pressure sores or a surgical wound
  • Patient and caregiver education
  • Assistance with the activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • Monitoring for serious illness and changes in health status

Home Care

Home care is any type of support care that allows you to stay at home safely. It can involve anything from help with everyday tasks to more specialized assistance so you can remain independent at the comfort of your home. This care is commonly used when coping with chronic illness, disabilities and recuperating from surgery. Home care is also often referred to as personal care, companion care, custodial care or homemaker services. Caregivers such as nurses, aides, and therapists can offer long-term or short-term care based on a senior's needs.

Home care services{{ref}}}{{{/ref}}} encompass a variety of tasks, including:

  • Personal hygiene assistance, like bathing, hair washing, and dressing
  • Household chores like cleaning the yard or doing laundry
  • Cooking meals or delivering them to you
  • Budget management help with activities such as bill-paying and forms filling out

Their Differences

Now that you know the basics of home care and home health care, let's now take a look at the key differences of these two services in more detail.

Type of Care

The most obvious difference between home health care and home care is the type of care they provide. Home health care generally offers "clinical" or "skilled" care through licensed nurses and therapists, while home care provides "non-clinical" or “non-skilled” services through professional caregivers.


Home health care aims to provide medical services that help patients under recovery. This often involves obtaining vital signs, administering medications and providing treatments such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy.

On the other hand, home care services are more geared towards activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, meal preparation and light housekeeping. Home care providers will also provide companionship, transportation to medical appointments and errands as needed.

Length of Care

Home health care services revolve around aiding people as they mend from an injury or sickness. More often than not, these types of services will need a physician's direct order to perform specific tasks. Home health care can go on for as long as your doctor approves and you still pass the requirements needed to qualify. Home care can be provided for long-term periods of time, sometimes even years, continuing only as long as you want or need it.


Home health care is usually covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance plans for eligible patients.[1] Home care is sometimes paid directly by the patient or long-term care insurance. Medicaid may also cover homecare in some cases.

Care Team

Home care services generally involve professional caregivers while home health care requires a team of healthcare professionals such as:

  • Physicians: Although physicians don't often provide direct health care within the home setting, they are responsible for overseeing patient care, diagnosing and monitoring conditions, prescribing medications and treatments.
  • Registered nurses: Registered nurses are responsible for carrying out assessments, monitoring test and laboratory results, administering treatments and medications, checking the patient’s condition, and providing education to the patient and family.
  • Occupational therapists: Occupational therapists provide treatment to help restore independence in activities of daily living and can teach adaptive techniques.
  • Physical therapists: Physical therapists are responsible for assessing a patient’s condition, creating and implementing a plan of care that optimizes function and mobility, and teaching exercises that promote strength, endurance, coordination, balance, posture, and functional mobility.
  • Speech therapists: Speech therapists assess and treat speech, language, cognitive-communication, voice and swallowing disorders.
  • Registered dietician: They are responsible for evaluating a patient’s nutritional intake and ordering special diets as necessary. They also provide education to patients and families about how to manage their illness through proper nutrition.
  • Medical social workers: A medical social worker strives to help the patient and their family get access to supportive services, like counseling or financial aid. They also provide emotional support while acting as an advocate for meeting the patient’s needs.
  • Home health aid (HHA): An HHA is a trained healthcare worker under the supervision of a nurse who helps with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, and using the bathroom. They can also help with shopping and light housekeeping.

Different Types of Home Health Care

Nursing Care

Home health care usually consists of skilled nursing care, which will vary depending on the patient's needs. Nurses will provide direct medical care, including wound care, intravenous (IV) therapy, and monitoring of vital signs. They can also administer medications and help with treatments as prescribed by a physician.

Other services from nursing care may include:

  • Ventilator care
  • Tracheostomy care
  • Monitoring vital signs
  • Ostomy or gastrostomy care
  • Feeding tube care
  • Catheter care

Physical, Occupation and Speech Therapy

After an illness or injury, physical, occupational and speech therapists can help a patient regain their independence. Therapists will work with the patient to develop an individualized plan of care that meets their specific needs. This could involve helping them strengthen weak muscles, learn how to walk again or practice speaking after a stroke.

Medical Social Services

A medical social worker is trained to assist patients and their families by providing emotional support, helping them manage financial resources, connecting them with community services or providing other helpful services. They may also provide counsel and guidance on end-of-life decisions.

Benefits of Home Health Care


Home health care is a great option when you value independence, as it allows you to remain in the comfort of your own home and keep doing daily activities while receiving quality medical care.


With home health care services, you can have access to medical professionals, making it possible to receive the care you need without having to travel or wait in long lines. Remaining at home allows you to stick to your routines and feel a sense of normalcy rather than feeling displaced in an unfamiliar hospital setting.

Cost Savings

Home health care is often more affordable than staying in a hospital or nursing home. Not only that, but it can be tailored to meet your unique needs and can help reduce hospital readmissions, ultimately resulting in cost savings for all involved.

Personalized Care

In home health care settings, you are able to receive individualized care and attention in your own homes. This can potentially prevent medication errors, reduce the likelihood of developing infections due to lack of proper hygiene, and increase the level of safety.

Peace Of Mind

Not only do home health care services benefit you, but it also gives relief to your families as well. It can be a great comfort knowing that there is someone reliable in the house helping with things like preparing meals and taking care of personal hygiene.

Home health aides are also taught to watch for any concerning signs and take appropriate measures to make sure their patient is safe. They can also teach family members on how they can help out and provide follow-up care, as well as connect them with other useful resources. This type of support not only eases stress levels but prevents family caregiver burnout too.

Team of Professionals

With home health care, you have access to a team of experienced medical professionals within the comfort of your own home. This enables you to receive quality care while staying in the environment you are familiar with. Having this kind of in-demand help available means that any potential problems can be addressed immediately whenever it arises.


Finally, home health care services provide companionship. This can be especially beneficial when you often feel isolated and alone, as having someone to talk to can help in staying engaged and connected with the outside world.



Related Articles

About the Author

Ericka Nicolas

Writer & Researcher

Elder Guide LLC

Ericka Nicolas began her career in the banking industry where she learned the importance of being detail-oriented and well-organized, both of which she applies to her current work as a writer and proofreader. With her vast experience in writing, Ericka is able to produce well-researched and engaging content that appeals to Elderguide's target audience. She was able to provide readers with valuable insights on a variety of topics and ensures that all the information she provides is accurate and up-to-date. She takes the time to carefully study each topic given to her, which allows her to produce truly informative articles. Ericka's passion for writing and her dedication to producing quality content gave way to her goal of helping our readers navigate the complex world of senior living and make informed decisions about their future. Aside from her work at Elderguide, Ericka enjoys spending time with her newly-married husband and their dog, Yari. She loves cooking, traveling, and exploring new restaurants in her spare time.