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 careIn-home care
Companionship, meal prep, light housekeeping, help with personal grooming and hygienered X markgreen check mark
Help getting in and out of bed, help to and from the bathroomred X markgreen check mark
Reminders to take medicationred X markgreen check mark
Must be prescribed by a doctorgreen check markred X mark
Covered by Medicaregreen check markred X mark
Skilled nursing, wound care, injections, IVs, or pain management at homegreen check markred X mark
Change or adjust medications as neededgreen check markred X mark
At-home visits from a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or speech therapistgreen check markred 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


  • 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!

  • […] There is also flexibility in care arrangements. For example, different types of care could be combined to lower costs, increase social interaction, or provide medical-type care – family help, adult day programs, privately-hired caregivers, agency caregivers and home health care. […]

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