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Home Healthcare Demystified

Updated: Jan 22, 2019

In a recent article Home Healthcare News, reported that one of the trends for homecare in 2019 would be consumer confusion around terminology and the differences between home care and home health. As both a home care and home health company, we want to help demystify some of the commonly used terms in home healthcare and help you understand what they mean for you.  To do that, we are going to be publishing articles over the next couple of weeks, in a series we are calling, Home Health Demystified. As we cover topics like RN Delegation, Care Management, Occupational and Physical Therapy, we hope that you leave with a little more knowledge than you had before and the confidence to choose the care that is right for you.

Today we are going to tackle the fact that there is a pretty big difference between home care and home health. Strangely enough, this is one of the concepts that causes the most confusion in the general public. Often home care is equated with home health, after all many people who have home care also have accompanying health conditions and/or progressive diseases. It does not then seem much of a stretch to say “Well, isn’t home care also home health?”. Nevertheless, the two fields (while certainly complementary) provide very different benefits. Home care, which is often started when an individual is aging and needs support with ADLs (Activities of Daily Living), typically involves basic assistance with activities like bathing, personal grooming, housekeeping, preparing meals and medication reminders. Caregivers also can provide much needed companionship and general supervision for elderly and disabled persons.  However, as we stated before, many persons needing homecare, may also have a health condition and/or progressive disease complicating their care. This is where the scope of traditional home care ends, and home health begins.

Home health requires skilled knowledge and expertise. Services that fall under home health would include care management, skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. For example, if someone has a condition that needs consistent monitoring, like diabetes, and they are unable to cognitively track their disease, a nurse care manager may be exactly what they need.  Additional examples of tasks that would fall under home health include the following: medication administration (when a loved one can no longer take their medication on their own.), tube feedings, oxygen monitoring, blood sugar tracking, intravenous fluids, home infusion, wound care, bowel programs, trach or ostomy care. Some of these tasks can be performed by a caregiver, however they must be supervised and delegated by a registered nurse. (More on that next week!) Hiring a company that has the ability to delegate caregivers and provide oversight is essential to client safety and quality care. If you are not sure if your care company provides delegated care and nursing oversite, call up and ask!  Another good question to ask is if a company’s delegating nurses are on-staff employees or if they are contracted from another company to delegate for them. A company that has on-staff nurses will provide consistency of care and therefore a greater level of safety.

As a home care and home health agency, CHCS can meet nearly any home care need. If you are still not sure if you need home care or home health, give us a call! One of the great things about being a privately-owned business is that we are available to listen to and assess your care needs, any time of the day.

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