Sunday, February 17, 2008

Clarifying "Home Care" terminology

Here's an excerpt from an article recently published on the Oklahoman newspaper web site:

By Gary A. Brown
Vintage Visions

To most people, the terms "home care” and "home health care” are synonymous. Yet, in reality, they are different services addressing different needs and often provided by different agencies.This understandable confusion is compounded when seniors look for services in the Yellow Pages. "Home Care” and "Home Health” are both listed under "Home Health Services.”

Here's an easy way to remember the difference: Home health is medically oriented, and home care is nonmedical and functionally oriented.

Unfortunately, Mr. Brown himself is perpetuating the terminology problem. He's right about home health. However, "Home Care" means more than non-medical home care. By our definition, "Home Care" includes a range of services for patients and clients in their homes, including "home health," Hospice, Home Medical Equipment, Home Infusion, and Non-medical or Private Duty Home Care.

It seems like the non-medical home care sector is trying to own the term, "Home Care." But they do so without a full understanding of our industry.

What do you think? What terms do you use? How can we clarify this for our patients, clients, physicians, and referral sources?

Make your comment below:


  1. Actually Stephen, you're so right. In fact, I'm on the board of the Oklahoma Association For Home Care and we represent non-medical Home Care, Home Health, Hospice and DME. I should probably have referred to non-medical as "private duty home care" although some may quibble about that. In Oklahoma, both home care and home health leaders use this difference to describe the unique services each provides. But you're right and given the exceptional quality of your newsletter, I'm not at all surprised you identified the discrepancy. I have enormous respect for your work and think we may utilize your consulting services at some point in the future.


    Gary Brown
    Christian Companion Senior Care

    P.S. Don't let this get out in Oklahoma because the article has gotten rave reviews. :)

  2. Thanks, Gary ... I'm glad we're on the same page. Let's work together to help others in the industry use these terms consistently.

    Best regards,


  3. Anonymous11:05 PM

    Stephen, thank you for addressing this issue. In the state of Georgia there is much confusion about similar terminology used by medical and non-medical agencies. I have had Care Improvement Plus (a Medicare Plan) tell my client that they would pay for our home health services. We are a Home Care Provider that is considered a non Medicare certified agency. I had to do some traning with the benefits specialists at Care Improvement Plus. I have found it helpful with Insurance companies and the general public to use terms like "non-skilled nursing, custodial care, and non-medical services." In the five different AT&T Yellow Pages books we advertise in, I have worked aggressively with these representatives to encourage a new category to separate home care agencies from home health agencies. I believe the Trade Associations can be and should be the pivotal point organization(s) to set "terminology standards."

    Keith Henson, owner
    Home Companions Plus, Georgia