Home Care: What’s the Difference?

Older adults want to stay at home. Nearly 90% of seniors want to stay at home as they age, making home care services of all kinds necessary to support safety and independence. When you are considering services to help an aging loved one stay at home, get familiar with the services that are available. Also, understanding how they can support you is invaluable.

There is an abundance of home care services in Florida. Some services require a doctor’s order. However, some can be obtained as easily as a phone call. Let’s talk about the types of home care that are available, how to find them, who pays, and how to get started.

home care

What is Home Health Care?

Home health care is a broad term for care that is given in the patient’s home by skilled professionals including nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. Additionally, home health care can also include non-skilled services provided at home by certified nursing assistants, home health aides, and other care workers. Home care is an umbrella term that describes a wide spectrum of care that can be provided in the home. This is accomplished through a variety of local, state, federal, insurance, and private pay options.

Home Health Care Services

Medicare Home Health Benefit

Medicaid Home Health Benefit

Veterans Administration Home Health Care

Home health care can include services offered through Medicare Advantage Plans, Managed Medicaid Plans, and private insurance. Social services through the state Area Agency on Aging or care provided by private duty nursing are also included in the term “home health care.” Overall, it is a comprehensive term for care provided by home health agencies, visiting nurses, private duty nurses, and providers who make house calls. This term can even include services provided by organizations, like Meals on Wheels, for example.

Medicare Home Health Care

Medicare home health care is provided by Medicare-certified home health agencies. The care provided is “intermittent” or “as needed.” This means that care is provided less than 7 days a week or less than 8 hours a day over a 21-day period. There is no limit on services provided to a patient who qualifies.

These services are provided to those who are eligible for Medicare benefits – typically 65 years or older, disabled, or suffering from End-stage Renal Disease.

Services Include:

Skilled nursing care

Physical therapy

Occupational therapy

Speech-language pathology

Medical social services (related to illness)

Access to medical supplies ordered as part of care

There are specific services that are not included by Medicare such as 24-hour care, meals, and homemaker services. If the only care needed is assistance with personal care (bathing, grooming, dressing, or toileting), this is not covered by Medicare. If your aging parent cannot leave the home without help and has a doctor’s order for home care, Medicare home health care is a service that can support them while they age in place at home.

Medicaid Home Health Services

In Florida, eligibility and enrollment into a health plan with the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care Program can include home health services. These services are provided by a licensed nurse and a qualified home health aide. To receive home health services, the Medicaid recipient must meet specific criteria.

Criteria for Medicaid Home Health Services

Under the care of a physician and have an order for services

Have a medical condition or disability that substantially limit ability to perform ADL’s

Require services that can be safely, effectively, and efficiently provided in the home

These services are only available to individuals who are enrolled in a Medicaid health plan. This is determined through an application process and a series of assessments to confirm the individual is both financially eligible and medically needy. If your loved one is enrolled in Medicaid, check with their health plan for a list of approved home health providers.

home care

VA Home Health Care Services

Veterans who need personal care services can receive them through organizations that have a contract with the VA. These programs assist veterans who need help with activities of daily living, are isolated, or have a caregiver that is burdened. Companions and home health aides as well as skilled professionals can provide services to frail or disabled Veterans in their homes, providing support to those who served our country.

The VA Aid and Attendance benefit is available for those who apply and are approved. If your aging parent is a veteran, the VA offers guidelines for eligibility and instructions for how to get the benefit. Don’t assume they are not eligible – every dollar helps!

Private Duty Care is Always an Option

Home health care services through a private duty agency are always an option because you are paying the bill! The cost of the services comes out of your pocket, so you get to decide when you have it and for how long. (Have a long-term care insurance policy? Check it for private duty home care benefits!) Private pay services can include the services of a licensed nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or any other service provider. You can pay for any services you want to help keep an older adult independent and safe at home.

Private home health care is an invaluable option for support in keeping a loved one at home longer. With flexible hours and a seemingly endless list of tasks they can assist with,  private home health care is the service of choice for families of aging loved ones. Especially when looking for a dependable service to help keep mom or dad in their home, where they want to be.

How Can I Find a Home Health Provider?

To help you find providers, the State of Florida has a Provider Locator that allows you to search for agencies by license type. If you are enrolled with a Managed Medicaid health plan, talk to your case manager about contracted providers in your area. For veteran’s benefits, some services are contracted through the VA. However, some are paid directly from you, using the Aid and Attendance benefit – ask your provider of choice for guidance regarding payment.

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Nothing beats positive recommendations from friends and professionals when you are looking for a reputable local provider of home health services for an aging parent.  In Brevard County, you won’t have to look too far to find a local home health provider who can connect you with additional resources for support. Sometimes it takes a village to keep an older adult safely at home and home health services are a great foundation to build on.

Peace of mind for the primary caregiver and supportive services to help seniors stay home longer are two reasons Private Duty Home Care is a Resource We Love. Learn more about how these creative caregivers give family members a break and keep seniors engaged in the Resources Section of our Blog.

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