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Selecting a non-medical or medical home care provider for a loved one is an important decision. You want your loved one to have the absolute best care possible, and you want to trust that the care provider you select is reliable, focused on safety, and provides the highest quality of care available.

With so many options available, it can be difficult to make a selection, and you may feel like you have a relatively short amount of time to make such an important decision.

Before you make any decisions, however, you need to know whether your loved one needs non-medical home care or medical home care.

While the concept of medical home care might seem fairly straightforward, you might be wondering, “What is non-medical home care?” Knowing the differences between both types of care will help ensure that your loved one receives exactly the right level of care at the right time, a crucial factor for recovery and quality of life.

It’s especially important to understand the difference because choosing the wrong type of home care could have serious consequences, including: 

  • Increased risk of falls and other injuries
  • Increased risk of emergency room visits and hospitalizations
  • Deteriorating quality of life
  • Loss of independence
  • Loneliness, boredom, and depression
  • Caregivers without the appropriate training or skills can put your loved one at risk

This article will provide you with an understanding of the following:

  • Medical and non-medical home care
  • How they are similar and how they are different
  • What types of services are available
  • How to determine whether a service might be covered by insurance or Medicare
  • The benefits of each type of service
  • Strategies for selecting the right home care provider for your loved one

What Is Medical Home Care? 

When people think about home care, they usually imagine medical home care, in which a nurse or rehabilitation professional comes to a person’s home to provide skilled nursing or therapy services. 

Medical home care, also called “home health care” or “skilled medical care” is typically provided following hospitalization for a serious injury or illness.

The goal is to allow the person to continue to recover and rehabilitate in the comfort, safety, and familiarity of their own home instead of in a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or rehabilitation facility which are much more expensive, and may also unnecessarily expose the person to infection, or may contribute to depression or delirium.

Medical home care professionals are specifically trained to provide home care services, and medical home care is just as effective as the care found in a hospital or nursing home.

Medical home care includes a variety of different types of medical services, including but not limited to:

  • IV therapies
  • Nutritional feeding therapy
  • Medication management
  • Wound care and pressure sore prevention
  • Medical monitoring following serious illnesses and injuries
  • Pain management
  • Rehabilitative therapy, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy
  • Education for patients, family caregivers, and loved ones about conditions and treatments
  • Cognitive retraining
  • Dementia care

What Is Non-Medical Home Care?

During non-medical home care, a non-medical care caregiver comes to a person’s home to assist them with a variety of non-medical needs.

The caregiver is not a medical professional and does not provide medical care services such as skilled nursing or rehabilitative therapy.

The goals of non-medical home care are to support the ability of the person receiving those services to age in place and remain as independent as possible in the comfort of their own home.

Non-medical home care can include a range of services, such as: 

  • Assistance with activities of daily living, such as grooming, bathing, toileting, and dressing
  • Assistance with medication reminders and home exercise programs
  • Companionship and support for leisure activities and hobbies, such as playing games or crafting
  • Meal planning and meal preparation
  • Light housekeeping activities, such as cleaning, dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, and laundry
  • Assistance with running errands or going to appointments
  • Respite care for family caregivers

How Are Non-Medical Home Care and Medical Home Care Similar?

Both types of home care are intended to provide the right level of support to the right person at the right time.

Often, non-medical home care and medical home care are provided simultaneously to ensure that the person receiving services can maintain their independence and feel supported while they recover or rehabilitate. 

Medical and non-medical home care share many of the same goals as well, with a strong focus on safety, well-being, healing, comfort, quality of life, and aging in place.

How Are Non-Medical Home Care and Medical Home Care Different?

In addition to the key difference of medical services not being provided with non-medical home care, there are other significant differences as well. 

  • Medicare Coverage: One important difference is that medical home care is fully covered by Medicare Part A and Part B, covered by Medicare Advantage plans, and may be covered by private medical insurance, depending on the policy. Because medical services are not provided with non-medical home care, non-medical home care is not covered by Medicare and private medical insurance plans. However, non-medical home care may be covered by long-term care insurance, depending on the policy. People receiving services may also choose to pay privately for services.
  • Length of Care: Another important difference is in how long the services are intended to be provided. Medical home care is intended to be temporary, and services will be reduced as the person meets their recovery and rehabilitation goals. On the other hand, non-medical home care usually provides long-term support, offering flexibility and customization as the person’s needs change. 

What are the benefits of home care?

According to a survey run by McKinsey and Company, hundreds of billions of dollars in care services are expected to move to home care by 2025.

Why is this? 

Care within the home setting has many benefits for the people receiving it, including: 

  • Better quality of life
  • More holistic patient- and family-centered care
  • Greater opportunities for customization to the person’s needs
  • A greater sense of dignity
  • The ability to remain independent longer
  • Faster healing and recovery, according to a 2021 meta-analysis
  • Greater affordability, especially compared to hospital stays and skilled nursing facilities

How Much Do Medical and Non-Medical Home Care Cost?

The cost for both types of home care can vary greatly depending on the person’s needs, the types of services they are receiving, how frequently they are receiving these services, and a number of other factors. 

Medical home care (skilled nursing and therapy services) is fully covered by Medicare, which means a person with Medicare Part A and Part B will have no out-of-pocket costs for their care.

Non-medical home care is typically paid for out of pocket, with costs generally starting around $26/hour, depending on the state you live in, the services being provided, and the number of individuals in the home who need support services.

According to Aging.com, the most expensive states for non-medical home care are North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island while the least expensive are Louisiana, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi.

In some cases, non-medical home care may include overnight care to provide assistance with transferring or toileting or to prevent a person with dementia from wandering and injuring themself. 

How to Find Non-Medical and Medical Home Care

If your loved one is transitioning to medical home care following hospitalization, the hospital may provide a referral to a home care organization they work with.

Non-medical care providers may also be licensed to provide medical on skilled home care. Keeping services under one company facilitates better care coordination and communication.

Patients have the right to select the health care provider of their choice. Medical facilities are required to offer choices. In Florida, Medicare-certified home health agency quality and patient satisfaction ratings can be found at medicare.gov.

When you pay out of pocket for your medical home care—or you are deciding on a non-medical home care provider, you will have a much wider range of options. If your loved one is being discharged from a hospital, you can discuss these options and ask for recommendations during discharge planning.

If your loved one was not in the hospital, you may want to check with their primary care provider for a recommendation.

And if these options are not available, an internet search will provide you with a wealth of options; just be sure to check the Agency for Healthcare Administration website to verify that providers are licensed, accredited, and qualified to provide the type of support needed.

Conclusion

Now that you have a better understanding of medical and non-medical home care, you are better equipped to assist your loved one in finding precisely the right type of care to meet their needs. 

Whether your loved one is on the road to recovery and needs skilled medical care to help them regain their independence or they need long-term support, companionship, and assistance with daily living, you can confidently discuss options and make a selection that will help your loved one stay safe and healthy and maintain a good quality of life.

A Care Connection is an AHCA Licensed Nurse Registry. A Care Connection Home Health is a Medicare-certified home health agency licensed by AHCA and accredited by the Joint Commission.

Companion/Homemaker companies are not permitted to provide hands-on personal care services.

Please Note:

The posts published on the ACareConnection.com blog are strictly for educational purposes only. They do not necessarily reflect the type and scope of home health and care services that we, or our nurse registry referred professionals, provide to clients. If you have any questions about the types of services provided by our HHA and NR licensed companies, please feel free to reach out through our contact page.