Defining Home Care, Home Health and Hospice Care


In today’s senior care landscape, it seems like there are SO MANY terms and expressions that one can easily become confused or overwhelmed. As much education as we try to provide, we still get a lot of questions about the different terminology. Here are some commonly asked questions we get at Concordia from families and individuals just starting their search for home care, home health or hospice care services. (Here are links to past articles on this subject: February 2019, January 2018, January 2017 and October 2016).

What’s the Difference Between Home Care and Home Health?

While the terms home care and home health are similar, and are sometimes used interchangeably, they are distinct services that offer care and in-home support to patients. Home care specifically provides non-medical assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) that include eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, etc. Concordia Private Care provides home care services to anyone who doesn’t have the time, opportunity or energy to handle everyday tasks and to individuals who have a compromised health condition and would benefit from receiving non-medical services. Services range from assistance with normal day-to-day tasks (ADLs), to Independent Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) including light housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation, grooming and personal care, to assistance with errands, grocery shopping and transportation to doctors’ appointments.

Home health, on the other hand, offers skilled nursing, therapy and clinical healthcare support to individuals in a home setting recovering from an injury or major surgery, who have a change in medical condition and/or are unable to leave home without a considerable amount of effort. To receive home healthcare services, an individual’s physician must determine the need for ongoing professional home healthcare for a period of time and provide an order for this care. Concordia Visiting Nurses provides a number of health care services to patients in a home setting including skilled nursing care, physical, occupational and speech therapies, disease management and specialty services and more. Additionally, if a patient is receiving home healthcare, they are likely to need some form of medical equipment and medical supplies to supplement their recovery. Not only does Concordia’s Home and Community Services include support through Concordia Private Care and Concordia Visiting Nurses, but Concordia Medical Equipment offers durable medical equipment, medical supplies, and equipment repairs to help patients reach their goals for rehabilitation.

Related: How to Plan Ahead for Long-Term Care

Are Hospice and Palliative Care the Same?

When most people imagine hospice, what usually comes to mind are inpatient hospice services, which are delivered in a healthcare setting. What they may not know is that there are generally three types of hospice care including: routine in-home hospice care, continuous in-home hospice care and general inpatient care. Hospice care is reserved for patients when treatment is no longer curative, typically when life expectancy is measured in months rather than years. The care provided considers the emotional, social and spiritual needs of the patient and their family and is designed to treat the symptoms of the disease rather than the disease itself. Hospice care can be paid for by the Medicare and Medicaid Hospice Benefit, most insurances and through the Veteran’s Administration.

Check out this podcast from WISR radio on understanding the different types of in-home care and terminology

Palliative care is supportive care for patients with advanced illnesses and provides treatment for symptoms even when the underlying disease cannot be cured. Like hospice care, the palliative treatment plan considers the emotional, social and spiritual needs of the patient. Anyone with a serious illness, regardless of life expectancy, can receive palliative care. The goal of a palliative care treatment plan is to achieve the best quality of life for patients and their families while seeking continuing treatment for the advanced illness. When the disease the palliative care plan is treating progresses to an incurable condition, the palliative care team will assist the patient and their families with the coordination of hospice services. Palliative care is typically covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurances.

Related: What Hospice Care Can Do For Your Loved One

What is Respite Care?

Respite care is short-term care that benefits family caregivers as well as patients. Caring for a critically or terminally ill loved one can be difficult for all involved, and sometimes the patient is admitted to a healthcare facility for a short period of time when they need the kind of care that cannot be provided in the home, or when the family caregiver needs a break. Respite care typically has a limit, in terms of number of days, and can usually only be delivered on occasion. Respite care is for qualifying individuals, in accordance with Medicare guidelines.

If you’re looking for senior or healthcare services at our locations in western PA, eastern OH or Tampa, FL, whether for yourself or a loved one, learn more about how Concordia’s services can help. With a wealth of care levels and services, finding the right fit for your senior or health care needs is easier than ever. Call our administrative headquarters at 724-352-1571 or message us through our online contact form to ask about what Concordia can do for you.

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