What Is In-Home Care?

In-home care refers to care given to individuals – mostly elderly seniors – in their own home, making it possible for them to remain at home rather than move into a residential, long-term, institutional-based facilities. These agencies render a range of companionship, personal care and supervision services in the comfort and convenience of a person’s own home. Most individuals prefer home care over institutional care, if given the choice.

In-home care from a professional agency is appropriate whenever a person prefers to stay at home but needs ongoing care that cannot easily or effectively be provided solely by family and friends. More and more older people, electing to live independent, non-institutionalized lives, are these type of services as their physical capabilities diminish, through an agency.

Care in the home may include some combination of skilled health care services and non-medical or assisted living services. The phrases, In Home Care, Home Care and Home Health Care have been used in the past interchangeably regardless of whether the person requires skilled nursing care or not. Today, however, there is growing understanding that “home health care” means skilled nursing care, and that “in home care” means non-medical care, personal care, custodial care or domiciliary care. These differences are important because they help determine the appropriate level of care provided, which in-turn will determine the actual cost of care and also the funding sources available to pay for care.

Non-medical care services include personal care, companionship and supervision, as well as help in the home with the tasks of daily living such as meal preparation, medication reminders, laundry, light housekeeping, errands, shopping, transportation, and companionship. Activities of daily living (ADL) refers to six specific activities (bathing, dressing, transferring, using the toilet, eating, and walking) that reflect an individual’s capacity for self-caring. The number and severity of a person’s ADL assistance needs often is used to determine eligibility for Long Term Care insurance benefits or may be used as part of an assessment tool by an in-home care agency to determine the agency’s charges for in home caregiving services and also to appropriately staff assignments with qualified caregivers.

Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) refers to six daily tasks (light housework, preparing meals, taking medications, shopping for groceries or clothes, using the telephone, and managing money) that enables the individual to live independently in their home. While there are differences in the terms describing aspects of in-home care or home health care, in reality, most elderly individuals needing one type of caregiving, will eventually need both at some point.

If you are considering hiring an agency to help a parent or other loved one remain home, there are things you need to think about and questions you should ask in order to get the highest quality available. You want to select a qualified in-home care agency that will provide the services you need at the cost you can afford. These agencies can lighten the burden of caring for your loved one and provide peace of mind to your family.

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