Care at home: A closer look
As an alternative to continued hospitalization or a move into a long-term care setting, health and supportive care services can sometimes be delivered in a person’s home. However, it is important to distinguish and understand the difference in types of care that can be provided at home.
“Home care,” “home health care” and “in-home care” are terms that are used interchangeably to mean any type of care given to a person in their own home. However, there is a growing movement to distinguish between home health care as meaning skilled nursing care and home care meaning non-medical care.
Home care strives to make it possible for individuals to remain in their home rather than use residential, long-term, or institutional-based nursing care, or to have short- or long-term supportive services after a return home from any of these settings. Home care provides services in the client’s own home, including some combination of professional health care services and life assistance services.
Professional home health services could include
- medical or psychological assessment,
- wound care,
- medication teaching,
- pain management,
- disease education and management,
- physical therapy, speech therapy or occupational therapy.
Home care, or life-assistance, services include help with daily tasks such as meal preparation, medication reminders, laundry, light housekeeping, errands, shopping, transportation, and companionship.
Estimates indicate that most home care in the United States is informal, with families and friends providing a substantial amount of care. For formal care, health care professionals most often involved are nurses followed by physical therapists and home care aides. Other health care providers include respiratory and occupational therapists, medical social workers and mental health workers.
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