If you are reading this post, you probably belong to the vast majority of informal caregivers in the U.S. (85 percent) who care for an aging parent, relative or loved one. This continues to be a major responsibility for the average mid-life American caregiver.
As an informal caregiver, you play a crucial role in the healthcare services offered to your aging loved one. Yet, a recent study published in the International Journal of Caring reveals that caregivers lack the necessary skills and knowledge related to caregiving and do not receive any social support or assistance from health care professionals. This includes knowledge about the various terminologies used in the senior care domain.
When most informal caregivers come across terms such as ‘non-medical home care’ and ‘home health care, they assume them to be the same as they sound similar. However, their applications, the costs involved, and the services included differ. Knowing about such differences will help you make an informed care decision for your loved one.
If you are confused about these terms, take a look at the detailed information regarding the differences between non-medical home care and home health care.
Non-Medical Home Care
Non-medical home care, as the name suggests, does not address the medical needs of your loved one. If your doctor has ruled out the need for medical home care, but you still feel the need for help, consider this service. In a few states in the U.S., this service is also referred to as custodial care/in-home assistance. Under this service, your senior parent receives support while performing most of his/her Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) independently.
Caregivers, whether it is family members or professionals, can offer this service even if they do not possess a medical license as the services involved are non-medical in nature. The primary goal of this service is to ensure the safety and comfort of your loved one in his/her home.
Since non-medical home care can be offered by professional and/or informal caregivers/support groups, this type of care is not covered by insurance. The cost of non-medical home care is primarily borne by the caregiver or the senior. The benefit of hiring a non-medical home caregiver is that he/she will be with your loved one for a long time and will offer him/her assistance until his/her condition has improved.
Services Included in Non-Medical Home Care
- Personal assistance services like help with patient’s personal grooming needs such as bathing, using the bathroom, getting dressed, and other activities of daily living.
- Help with moving around the house, getting in and out of the bathroom and other forms of light transportation using a wheelchair.
- Preparing meals and serving them on time.
- Reminding the patient to take his/her medications on time.
- Light housekeeping activities, helping with the household chores related to the patient, attending to laundry, and cleaning the room.
- Offering companionship by conversing, playing board games, reading books, doing recreational activities, and conducting social outings.
Home Health Care
Home health care relates to medical care provided by certified medical professionals. When your loved one is ill, injured, or unable to perform his/her activities of daily living, a medical practitioner deems it necessary for him/her to receive medical assistance at home.
Only a licensed home health care professional is authorized to attend to your loved one and perform the tasks prescribed by your medical practitioner. Home health care is an effective alternative to receiving care in a hospital so that the patient can recover in his/her dwelling.
Home health care is generally less expensive, highly personalized, and easily available in every city. For instance, if you reside in Albuquerque, a simple search for home health care in Albuquerque can offer you the best home health care service options relevant to your needs.
Home health care service offers a range of benefits to the patient and his/her caregiver. It facilitates early discharge from the hospital, reduces the frequency of hospital admissions, and ensures faster recovery as the patient is close to his/her family. This service is ideal for your aging loved one, especially if he/she is living with a chronic, incapacitating condition, or needs postoperative care.
Home health care is usually covered by medical insurance like Medicare or other private medical insurance companies. Know that medical insurance will not cover all aspects of home health care. For instance, if you opt for 24-hour care and certain non-medical services, insurance won’t cover that. Usually, a medical insurance package covers only up to 35 hours per week of care, so make sure you verify this aspect with the insurance company.
To make sure that your insurance claims come through easily, ensure that necessary services are prescribed by the doctor, and the home health care agency is certified by the insurance company. Your loved one is also required to be home bound (unable to leave home to visit the doctor due to a physical/mental ailment) so as to avail the insurance cover. If there are other medical expenses that aren’t covered by your medical insurance firm, make sure you check with your supplementary or long-term insurance if they can cover a few other services.
Services Included in Home Health Care
- Monitoring unstable health parameters, serious illnesses, catheter care, and ventilator patient care.
- Administration of medication/nutrition through intravenous route.
- Wound care and medical dressing for injuries, fractures, burns, sores and/or surgical wounds.
- Physiotherapy, occupational therapy, mobility training, or speech therapy at home.
- Assistance with the Activities of Daily Living and specialized services like counseling, rehabilitation, and elderly abuse investigations and reporting.
- Long-term pain management and diabetes management.
- Offering patient education and awareness of disease management.
Numerous agencies offer both, non-medical home care and home health care services as several families require medical care and assistance with ADLs for their aging loved ones. Therefore, before hiring an agency, you must make sure that you enlist your needs and inquire about the services that are relevant to you.
The various terminologies involved in the world of senior care can be quite confusing. Gaining knowledge about them will help you choose the right path towards offering the appropriate support to your elderly loved one. Use the information shared above to understand the differences between non-medical home care and home health care services, so that you can choose the best option to care for your much-loved senior family member.