What is home health care?

Home health care, or home health, can be defined as a wide range of health care services that are provided within a person’s home for an illness or injury and can be for the short or long term. Usually, it is less expensive and more convenient and can be just as effective as care provided in other settings. Home health includes many types of medical services, such as hospice, skilled nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Non-medical skilled home health care includes medical social services, assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), and patient and family education. Home health can also include broad social support such as housekeeping and laundry assistance, meal preparation, medication reminders, and personal care such as bathing and feeding.

Home health care services are provided by different agencies including visiting nursing agencies (VNAs) and they care for patients of all ages, including babies and the elderly. Services include the services mentioned above, but can also include infusion therapy, vaccinations, patient education, wound care, pain management, palliative care, and nutritional therapy. Within these agencies, you will find home health aides and personal care assistants/attendants, who provide or help provide home health services. However, the function of a home health aide and a personal care assistant are different. A home health aide enables a person to stay in their home by monitoring and recording their condition and providing support and personal services. Some of the duties of a home health aide including monitoring the person’s physical and mental condition, their intake and output, and exercise; providing support with housekeeping and laundry services, shopping for and preparing food, and other household requirements; assisting them in their ADLs; and recording patient information in the person’s chart and notifies their supervisor of changing and unusual conditions. Home health aides are generally supervised by a register nurse.

Personal care assistants provide companion care, light housekeeping, food shopping and preparation, and assist in ADLs. They may support their client in the workplace or classroom, attend events or family functions, and even travel with their client. They cannot provide medical services, such as diabetes care. However, with the proper training, they can help administer medications and can help move those with limited mobility. The hiring of a home health aide or personal care assistant depends on each individual situation. Please contact your primary care physician to help you determine which is appropriate for you.

We ran a search of NIDILRR projects that are studying home health care in relation to people with disabilities. Here are just a few of those projects:

  • The University of Michigan Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training Program in Community Living and Participation (H133P140005)
  • Safe@Home: A Self-Management Program for Individuals with TBI and Their Families (H133G130149)
  • Parents Taking Action: A Parent Training Intervention for Latino Immigrant Families (H133G140128)

We also ran a search on REHABDATA for articles from NIDILRR funded projects. Here are just a few of those articles:

  • A home-based walking study to ameliorate perceived stress and depressive symptoms in people with traumatic brain injury (J71238)
  • Outcomes of the Maryland person-centered hospital discharge program: A pilot targeting decreasing long-term care use and hospital readmissions (J71182)
  • Rehab@home: A tool for home-based motor function rehabilitation (J71079)
  • Personal Assistance in the Workplace: A Consumer Directed Guide (O15444)
  • A step-by-step guide to training and managing personal assistants: Consumer guide (O17529).

And these resources from other publishers;

  • Caregivers and personal assistants: How to find, hire and manage the people who help you (or your loved one!) (R08219).

NARIC’s information specialists have gathered some of the best resources on the web and have created the following lists for our patrons:

For more information on home health care, please visit the following websites:

Please note: before choosing home health care, speak with your doctor or medical team to make sure that it is the right choice for you.


About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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