What Is the Difference between Home Health Care and Companion Care?

Searching for in-home care for a senior loved one? This is what you’ll need to know to make the best decision.

A senior couple answering the door at their home.

When a senior begins to need extra help with personal care or assistance around the home, loved ones often start to search for home care services. They want to find care solutions that will allow their elder to remain in their own home.

A question that often arises early in the search process is what the differences are between home health care and companion care. These similar types of care are so easily confused even health care professionals mistakenly use the two terms interchangeably.

Let’s explore these types of home care and then dig deeper into the benefits of each.

Does a Senior Need Home Health Care or Companion Care?

Older adults hoping to find care at home should understand their options:

  • Companion care: This in-home care service supports the basic needs of those with a disability or seniors who live independently and wish to remain that way. It is also referred to as home care or private duty care. Companion care is non-medical, so caregivers can’t provide the types of services a nurse or therapist would.
  • Home health care: By contrast, this type of home care service is used when someone needs skilled health care. It is often used after a senior is released from the hospital following an illness, accident, or surgery. Skilled professionals bring nursing care and therapy services into a patient’s home.

For some seniors, a combination of these services may be the ideal solution.

What Does Companion Care Include?

When a senior loved one is trying to remain independent and at home, finding support with activities of daily living is a must for their safety and well-being. An agency that offers companion care is likely a good choice to consider.

In-home caregivers can assist with tasks that support independence, including:

  • Personal care tasks, such as bathing and dressing
  • Escorting to appointments and other errands
  • Linen changes and laundry
  • Light housekeeping, like dusting and vacuuming
  • Meal planning and preparation

In some states, caregivers may be allowed to provide medication reminders or assistance.

As far as payment, the majority of companion care services are paid for with the senior’s or an adult child’s private funds. Some long-term care policies might have a provision for in-home care, so check if your senior has one. To help low-income seniors and people with disabilities pay for companion care, most cities, counties, and states have funding programs available. Call your local agency on aging to learn what is available in your area.

What Is Home Health Care?

Home health care agencies are staffed by nurses and therapists. These skilled health care professionals provide assistance in the privacy of the patient’s home. A few examples of the support an older adult might receive are:

  • Injections or IV therapy
  • Diabetes care or training
  • Wound care and dressing changes
  • Ostomy care and education
  • Medication management
  • Physical, occupational, or speech therapy

Reimbursement to home health care agencies is generally covered by Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicaid, and private insurance companies.

In order for Medicare to cover home health services, the patient must meet three criteria:

  • A physician must create and help supervise the patient’s plan of care.
  • The senior’s doctor needs to certify that the patient is homebound, which means leaving home requires considerable effort.
  • There must be a physician order that requires intermittent skilled nursing care or speech, physical, or occupational therapy services.

The goal of skilled home care is typically to help the senior rehab or recover and then get back to their regular life.

Home Care Services for Saratoga, Schenectady, and Warren Counties

If your parent needs assistance in Saratoga Springs or any of the surrounding areas, we invite you to consider Wesley Senior Home Care Services. Call (518) 584-1200 for more details!