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Home Health Care

How Home Health Care Differs from a Personal Caregiver

Millions of Americans require some form of home care. Some engage home health care services with the help of Medicaid or personal insurance coverage. Others rely on friends and relatives to act as daily caregivers. According to a 2015 survey conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, nearly 40 million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult – most likely a family member. As the aging population continues to grow, so will the need for home care.

The phrase “home health care” is often used interchangeably with personal care. However, the two have several important differences.


Home Health Care is Good Medicine

“Health” is the operative word here. Home health care refers specifically to medical services administered in the patient’s home. These can include:

  • Therapy
  • Medication
  • Medical testing
  • Pain management
  • Injury or wound care


Home health care is generally provided by skilled nurses or therapist through state-licensed home health agencies such as Santé Home Health and RehabilitationSanté’s Home Health and Rehabilitation  care program is a customized program for the patient’s needs, with teams including skilled nurses and home health aides. Home health aides are compassionate individuals trained to help older adults or disabled persons with the tasks of daily living.

Physical, speech and occupational therapists may also be part of your loved one’s care team, depending on his or her condition. Medically necessary home health care is covered by Medicare, as well as most Medicaid and private insurance programs.


Personal Care Improves Daily Living

Unlike home health care programs, personal care can be provided by anyone. Care is limited to non-medical needs such as housekeeping, running errands and helping the patient get dressed or go to the bathroom. This is the kind of care that your grandmother might have provided to an elderly relative back in the day. Personal caregivers assist with daily tasks that the patient finds difficult to accomplish.

Examples include:

  • Cooking meals
  • Laundry
  • Cleaning and general housekeeping
  • Help with grooming and hygiene
  • Toilet assistance


Many personal caregivers also provide companionship for the patient. They may watch TV, play chess or simply sit and enjoy a cup of tea and good conversation. Personal caregivers can remind the patient to take medication; however, they should not administer or change medical treatments. While most personal caregivers are family members, some patients require (or prefer) home health aides who can assist with daily tasks and look after the patient’s well-being.

Home health care is a growing need. By 2050, an estimated 20% of the American population will be 65 or older. Many of these seniors will require some form of in-home care. Ultimately, the decision about how much assistance is needed lies with the patient and his or her family. If you or a loved one are considering home care, contact Santé at 480-563-2402 to discuss your options.

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