Home Care and Home Health Care
What's Available And How These Services Differ
In fact, they are two different services. Understanding what each provides, how they are paid for, and when to use them can help you coordinate a care plan that works and is affordable.
The terms home care and home health are often confused. In fact, they are two different services. Understanding what each provides, how they are paid for, and when to use them can help you coordinate a care plan that works and is
Home care services require no doctor’s orders, can be contracted for 24 hours a day and can continue as long as someone wishes. Home care services can include meal preparation, personal care, light housekeeping, shopping and other errands and companionship. Some home care agencies offer geriatric care management, a service that oversees and coordinates all the outside services in a client’s home—from hiring a lawn service to coordinating medical-related home health care visits.
Although often crucial to being able to stay at home, home care typically is not covered by health insurance. It may be covered by a long-term care policy if you or your loved one happens to have one.
When looking for a home care agency, follow the guidelines for home health care agencies with the additions that the home care agency should:
• Provide services within 24 hours
• Be bonded and insured for up to $1 million
• Check the backgrounds of all employees.
Agency licenses can be checked at www.ncdhhs.gov/dhsr/reports.htm.
Because the cost of home care is out of pocket, some people consider hiring an individual themselves instead of using an agency. If you are considering that option, be sure to consider running background checks on the caregiver and make a plan for:
• What happens when the individual caregiver is ill or unavailable
• Withholding taxes, Social Security and Workers’ Compensation Insurance
• Homeowner’s insurance that would cover if a caregiver is hurt on the job
• Hiring an individual caregiver with flexibility to change with your needs; and
• Knowing who takes responsibility should the caregiver hurt your family member.
Home Health Care
Home health care is in-home medical care ordered by a doctor. The cost is usually covered by private health insurance or Medicare. Home health care procedures are performed by medical professionals and include services such as skilled nursing care, medication management, wound care, physical therapy and disease management training. Home health care professionals are in a patient’s home only long enough to carry out treatment.
Home health care is typically prescribed after a hospital stay. Your home health care prescription can be taken to any licensed agency covered by your insurance. To be proactive with your planning, research agencies before a hospitalization occurs.
When choosing a provider, be sure the agency:
• Is licensed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (licensed providers by county can be found at www.ncdhhs.gov/dhsr/reports.htm)
• Accepts your insurance
• Can begin providing services within 48 hours
• Has a missed appointment average no higher than three over the period of treatment
• Is on call 24 hours a day
• Has a policy for you to reject a particular care provider if you don’t like them or if they are not a good fit
• Gives you references from a current patient, a patient’s family member and a business that refers to them.
A comparison of local home health care agencies, a checklist for interviewing and more tips for finding the right agency can be found at www.medicare.gov/homehealthcompare.
As our loved ones age, chances are there will be times when they need home health and times when they need home care. By understanding what each service provides you can secure the right service for your situation. This can ease the stress and time demands on family that are caring for their loved one.