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Home care, (also referred to as domiciliary care, social care, or in-home care), is supportive care provided in the home. Care may be provided by licensed healthcare professionals who provide medical treatment needs or by professional caregivers who provide daily assistance to ensure the activities of daily living (ADLs) are met. In-home medical care is often and more accurately referred to as "home health care" or formal care. Often, the term home health care is used to distinguish it from non-medical care, custodial care, or private-duty care which refers to assistance and services provided by persons who are not nurses, doctors, or other licensed medical personnel.
Home Health services help adults, seniors, and pediatric clients who are recovering after a hospital or facility stay, or need additional support to remain safely at home and avoid unnecessary hospitalization. These Medicare-certified services may include short-term nursing, rehabilitative, therapeutic, and assistive home health care. This care is provided by registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPN's), physical therapists (PTs), occupational therapists (OTs), speech language pathologists (SLPs), home health aides (HHAs) and medical social workers (MSWs) as a limited number of up to one hour visits, addressed primarily through the Medicare Home Health benefit.
The largest segment of Home Care consists of licensed and unlicensed non-medical personnel, including caregivers who assist the individual. Care assistants may help the individual with daily tasks such as bathing, eating, cleaning the home and preparing meals. Caregivers work to support the needs of individuals who require such assistance. These services help the client to stay at home versus living in a facility. Non-medical home care is paid for by the individual or family. The term "private-duty" refers to the private pay nature of these relationships. Home Care (non-medical) has traditionally been privately funded as opposed to Home Health Care which is task-based and government or insurance funded.
These traditional differences in Home Care services are changing as the average age of the population has risen. Individuals typically desire to remain independent and use Home Care services to maintain their existing lifestyle. Government and Insurance providers are beginning to fund this level of care as an alternative to facility care. In-Home Care is often a lower cost solution to long-term care facilities.
For terminally ill patients, home care may include hospice care. For patients recovering from surgery or illness, home care may include rehabilitative therapies.