Understanding the difference between “home care” and “home health care”.

A recent report from a roundtable conducted in December 2016 by United Hospital Fund and the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation reflects that many seniors eligible for home health care after being discharged from a hospitalization refuse the service. In many instances, seniors mistake home health care for home care and don’t “want a babysitter” and feel the assistance would be an intrusion on their independence.

Under Medicare, home health care services are available to older adults who are homebound and need intermittent skilled care from a nurse, a physical therapist or a speech therapist, among other medical providers. Typically, these services last four to six weeks after a hospitalization, with a nurse visiting several times a week. Some patients receive them for much longer.

Many seniors and caregivers confuse “home health care” with “home care” delivered by aides who help people shower or get dressed or who cook, clean and serve as a companion. The two types of services are not the same: home health care is delivered by medical professionals; home care is not. Moreover, home care is not usually covered by Medicare.

The importance of home health care after discharge should not be underestimated. Some studies show that patients who receive home health care after a hospital discharge are less likely to be readmitted. Other studies show that patients who receive home health care report a better quality of life. Seniors have the right to make their own decisions but if the soundness of their decisions is compromised by cognitive deficits and puts them at risk, then a family member may be required to intervene.

Drizin Law is providing this legal update for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. You should consult an attorney concerning your particular situation and any specific legal questions you may have.