Page Reviewed / Updated – October 11th, 2021

Home care provides non-medical services to seniors who need help with the activities of daily living, such as grooming, housekeeping and meal preparation. Home health care provides medical care, including skilled nursing and therapy. Both services allow an individual to age in place, preferably within their own home, for as long as possible, but in some cases, a home care agency will provide these services in an independent care facility or assisted living community.

How Do Home Care and Home Health Care Differ?

Home care is designed to keep an individual safe and comfortable within their own home. It is ideal for a senior who needs help getting in and out of bed, needs gentle reminders to take their medicine, requires assistance bathing and wants companionship throughout the day. This service is usually paid for with personal income or savings. To meet the requirements for home care, an individual must have a medical need, a doctor’s order and must be homebound. This service can be temporary, for example, an older adult recovering at home from a serious health issue or injury, or it can be long-term for someone who suffers from a chronic illness.

Home health care differs from home care in that skilled medical professionals provide home health care services to seniors who have medical needs. They assist with wound care, give and change out IVs, administer and change medications and help seniors with therapeutic exercises that improve their overall condition. Home health care is generally fully covered by Medicare and other major insurance providers.

What Are Licensing Requirements for Home Care and Home Health Care Providers?

Each state has its own licensing requirements for home health aide certification. Along with licensed nurses, a home health care service may have home health aides and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who receive medical training and must pass a state exam. Medicare doesn’t pay for a home health aide to perform daily duties such as shopping and cooking. This is where the two services can work together to help an individual recover.