Get the Right Care: Home Health Care vs. Non-Medical Home Care

Woman Making Food for an Elderly Woman

Home care choices for seniors abound. However, not all home services are the same. You and your loved one may be confused about your choices and are left to wonder: Which home care services do I need for myself or my loved one?

The needs of our loved ones are unique, so different types of home services are combined into one program to meet our loved one’s medical and non-medical needs. This can all lend to our confusion about home care when it comes to delivery, frequency, insurance coverage, and costs.

Home health care and non-medical home care are two of the most commonly confused at-home services for seniors. What is the major difference between these two home services? The answer is this:

Home health care services are most often performed by registered nurses and medically trained personnel whereas non-medical home care services are usually performed by professional caregivers.

Read on for more information about home health care and non-medical home care and how to the two home services can overlap.

Home Health Care

Home health care is also called long-term home care. There are two types of home health care: informal and formal.

Informal long-term home health care is provided by non-medically trained family caregivers, friends, and senior care volunteers familiar with the basic health needs of their loved one. They do things such as fill prescriptions, watch for unusual behaviour, and follow up on doctor visits. An estimated 2.7 million Canadians provide informal home care to aging family members, friends, and spouses.

Formal home health care is provided by medically trained personnel like registered nurses and nurse case managers who perform medically-necessary tasks on behalf of our loved one. These tasks are often requested by physicians and required in our loved one’s rehabilitation. They also continually monitor the health of our loved ones and make medically-based decisions in the home when necessary.

For instance, a nurse case manager for a senior with dementia in the hospital for joint replacement surgery would do the following: collaborate with surgeons and primary physicians, update the family members, maintain the loved one’s health profile, and place skilled caregivers in the home upon the patient’s discharge.

Other home health care services may include:

  • Rehabilitation therapy programs including physical and occupational therapies
  • Physical therapies like strengthening and mobility exercises
  • Occupational therapies for daily living activities like eating
  • Monitoring medication dosages and dietary restrictions
  • Drug therapy like IV treatments
  • Injury treatment like cleaning and dressing wounds
  • Pain management

Non-Medical Home Care

Non-medical home care is also called custodial care. This type of home care is usually performed by skilled caregivers who are not medically-trained. Skilled caregivers have professional experience in looking after seniors and may work under a registered nurse’s supervision. However, skilled caregivers are not certified to perform medically-necessary tasks. They help our loved ones attend to their non-medical social and physical needs.

For instance, a non-medical home caregiver for a senior with limited mobility would assist them in getting out of bed, toileting, and performing leisure activities.

Other non-medical home care services may include:

  • Occupational therapies for daily living activities like dressing, bathing, and minor housework
  • Instrumental daily living activities like preparing meals, managing finances, and driving to appointments

When you and your loved one know the difference between home health care and non-medical home care, you are can make better informed choices. More importantly, you can safeguard your loved one from unintended injuries and complications in their home because you have chosen the best home care service and personnel to meet your loved ones unique physical and social needs.

To get a better idea of your loved one’s needs, download the Caregiver Checklist below.



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