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When most people hear the words “home health care” and “in-home care,” they assume those services are the same. It turns out there are some important differences.


Two different services with similar names

Home health care is skilled care from medical professionals. Written orders from a doctor are needed to start home health care. This helps older adults recover at home from a health issue. It’s usually less expensive, more convenient, and as effective as care from a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF). Services can include:

•  Wound care for pressure sores or a surgical wound

•  At-home physical, occupational, or speech therapy

•  Monitoring serious illness and unstable health status

•  Intravenous (IV) or nutrition therapy

•  Pain management

•  Injections

Home health care is medical care

Here are two examples where in-home care and home health care services can work together to help your older adult.



•  An in-home caregiver helps them remember to take daily medications.

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


Physical therapy

•  A home health agency can work with the doctor to adjust physical therapy if it’s not working.

•  An in-home caregiver is there to encourage your older adult to do their physical therapy exercises, watch for problems, and let the physical therapist know how the exercises are going.

Home health care and in-home care can work together

In-home care services are non-medical and primarily help older adults with the activities of daily living. The main goal is to keep them safe and comfortable in their own homes. Services can include:

•  Help with personal grooming, like bathing or getting dressed

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

•  Medication reminders

•  Help preparing meals

•  Help with household chores like vacuuming or doing laundry

•  Companionship and friendship

In-home care is non-medical care