Home Health Care vs In-home Care: What’s the Difference?

home health care

Two different services with similar names

When most people hear the words “home health care” and “in-home care,” they assume those services are the same. It turns out there are some important differences.


Home health care is medical care

Home health care is skilled care from medical professionals and requires a written order from a doctor.

This type of care helps older adults recover at home from a serious health issue. It’s usually less expensive, more convenient, and as effective as care from a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF).

Services can include:

  • Wound care for pressure sores or a surgical wound
  • At-home physical, occupational, or speech therapy
  • Monitoring serious illness and unstable health status
  • Intravenous (IV) or nutrition therapy
  • Pain management
  • Injections


In-home care is non-medical care

In-home care services are non-medical and primarily help older adults with the activities of daily living. The main goal is to keep them safe and comfortable in their own homes.

Services can include:

  • Help with personal grooming, like bathing or getting dressed
  • Help with moving around, getting in and out of bed or the shower
  • Medication reminders
  • Help preparing meals
  • Help with household chores like vacuuming or doing laundry
  • Companionship and friendship


Home health care and in-home care often work together

Here are two examples where in-home care and home health care services can work together to help your older adult.


  • An in-home caregiver helps them remember to take daily medications.
  • A home health nurse can adjust or change medications as needed.

Physical therapy

  • A home health agency can work with the doctor to adjust physical therapy if it’s not working.
  • An in-home caregiver is there to encourage your older adult to do their physical therapy exercises, watch for problems, and let the physical therapist know how the exercises are going.


Quick comparison chart: Home health care vs In-home care

Home health care In-home care
Companionship, meal prep, light housekeeping, help with personal grooming and hygiene red X mark green check mark
Help getting in and out of bed, help to and from the bathroom red X mark green check mark
Reminders to take medication red X mark green check mark
Must be prescribed by a doctor green check mark red X mark
Covered by Medicare green check mark red X mark
Skilled nursing, wound care, injections, IVs, or pain management at home green check mark red X mark
Change or adjust medications as needed green check mark red X mark
At-home visits from a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or speech therapist green check mark red X mark


You might also like:
7 Things You Must Do When Hiring an In-Home Caregiver
What You Need To Know Before Your Senior Leaves the Hospital
Use This Guide to Help Seniors Stay in Their Homes


By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Frances Fox


Leave a Reply