Home Health Care vs Home Care: What’s the Difference?

Home health care vs in home care: they sound so similar, but they’re not the same and there are some important differences

They sound the same, but are different services

The words “home health care” and “home care” sound so similar, most people assume they’re the same thing. 

But they’re not the same and there are some important differences.

We explain what home health care is, what in-home care is, how they can be used together, and show the similarities and differences in a quick comparison chart.


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 (nursing home).

Services typically include:

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


In-home care is non-medical care

In-home care services are non-medical and primarily help older adults with activities of daily living and personal care.

The main goal of home care is to keep someone safe and comfortable in their own home. 

Services typically include:

  • Help with personal grooming, like bathing or getting dressed
  • Medication reminders
  • Help with moving around, getting in and out of bed or the shower
  • Preparing meals
  • Light housekeeping like washing dishes, vacuuming, or doing laundry
  • Companionship and friendship

Home health care and in-home care often work together

There are many situations in which in-home care and home health providers work together to help an older adult. 

Someone recovering from a major health event usually needs support with everyday life as well as specialized therapy or nursing-level services to continue their recovery.

For example, here’s how home health and in-home care could work together:

Helping with medication

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

Getting physical therapy

  • A physical therapist teaches your older adult do therapeutic exercises that will improve their health condition
  • An in-home caregiver is there to encourage them to do their physical therapy exercises every day, help keep them safe, 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 careIn-home care
Companionship, meal prep, light housekeeping, help with personal grooming and hygienewhat is home health carehome health care is covered by medicare
Help getting in and out of bed, help to and from the bathroomhome health care and in home care are differentgreen check mark
Reminders to take medicationwhat is home health caregreen check mark
Must be prescribed by a doctorhome health care vs in home carered x mark
Covered by Medicare (when prescribed)in home carehome health care key facts
Skilled nursing, wound care, injections, IVs, or pain management at homehome healthred x mark
Change or adjust medications as neededhome carehome health care and in home care comparison
At-home visits from a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or speech therapistgreen check markred x mark


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team


  • Reply September 14, 2021

    C. Doskas

    I just read your posting on your web site.
    I do have a question: How do we request help for an elderly person through your organization?

    • Reply September 14, 2021


      Thanks for your interest, but we don’t offer any services since we’re an online-only resource for caregivers through our website and email newsletter.

      Your local Area Agency on Aging may also be able to connect you to organizations that can help. More info here – Area Agency on Aging: Local Resources for Seniors https://dailycaring.com/area-agency-on-aging-resources-for-seniors/

  • Reply January 29, 2021


    I am an LPN I have my mother in law living with me know, she suffers from dementia, chronic diabetes mellitus, she is unsteady, I have to go to work, I am worried about her. I have hired a caregiver but it is getting expensive. Is there any programs that will pay me as a nurse to care for my mother in law. Thank you. I live in az.

  • Reply May 6, 2019


    Hello.. we live in California and my parents are living with me, My mom is having health issues, so my dad is taking care of her and doing most of her daily chores including cooking, cleaning for her for the last few years and recently we came to know that my dad can receive some cash support because he is taking care of her and it is consider in-home care. did you know where we can apply or call?

  • Reply January 23, 2019

    Miriam Ruiz

    Good afternoon we live in Texas and me and my mom are taking care about my grandfather (96yrs old) we are taking care for 11 yrs and recently we know my mom can receive a check because she was not able to work, did you know where we can apply or call?

  • Reply September 21, 2018

    Derick Jackson

    I have appreciate with getting lot of good and reliable, legislative information with your post.Thanks for sharing such kind of nice and wonderful post.

  • Reply September 14, 2017

    Kim Logan

    My Mom has had a series of fractures and came to live with me a year ago. I am on social security disability myself with little resources …but we have managed. I am trying to get adult day health approved as a support … her income is too much for Medi Cal…to cover the share of cost is 900 and she has to pay rent to live with me in my hud apartment …after share of cost and bills it is too much and I only have an income of 800 per month…What do we do?

  • Reply July 3, 2017

    Marcus Coons

    I had no idea that in-home care services offered help with laundry. We are looking for a way to help our mom get the help she needs around the house and I think we just found it thanks to you. It is important to remember that when choosing a company to care for your loved one’s needs, it is important to compare several ones and find the one with the best reviews and services in your area.

  • Reply June 6, 2017

    Amy Tang

    Nice to read. I really appreciate the insight here in this post and wanted to say thank you for giving me the answers of questions in my mind.

    • Reply June 7, 2017


      So glad this article is helpful!

    • Reply October 3, 2021

      Sauda Namanda

      This article was so interesting and has shown what the great difference,though some similarities

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