Home health care and private duty care include very different services.

There is sometimes a good deal of confusion about the two terms, 'private duty care' and 'home health care'. Many people have the understanding that these two are basically the same things, and that they're basically interchangeable. Your private duty care professionals in Arlington and elsewhere understand that the two terms are actually quite different, and if you have a senior loved one in need of some kind of care, you should understand the differences as well. The following discussion will identify the most important points associated with each of these two types of care, in case you should have a need to know the difference.

Private duty care

Probably the single most distinguishing characteristic of private duty care is that it is non-medical in nature. That means it does not involve nurses, doctors, therapists, or any other medical personnel in a program of treatment. Much of private duty care centers around assisting a patient to perform the basic necessities of life. Included in this broad category are such activities as meal preparation, bathing and grooming, assistance with navigation around the home, light housekeeping, simple household chores, safety supervision, medication reminders, companionship, and transportation as needed. When it's necessary to help a patient keep doctor appointments, a private duty care person will also provide this kind of assistance.

There are no limits to the amount of time that a private duty care person would spend with the patient, and in fact it could even be that the private duty professional lives right with the patient in the same dwelling. Private duty care also involves family respite assistance, to help family members take a break from providing care so that they don't become burned out on the job. In some cases, such respite care includes having the family leave the home for several days, possibly on a vacation, so that they can have a complete break from providing care for at least a short period of time.

Private duty care is generally paid for by long-term care insurance, or through veterans' coverage, and in some cases even through private payments. When a patient also requires skilled care, for instance, while trying to recover from a major illness or accident, private duty care will often be continued, even after the skilled care program has been completed.

Home health care

The best way to think about home health care is that its skilled care, in which professional medical personnel is involved. That means there could be skilled nursing services being rendered, physical therapy, occupational or speech therapy, home health aide services, a dietary and nutrition specialist, a medical social worker, and of course, even a doctor's care may come into play.

In order to qualify for the prescribed services involved in home health care, a patient must meet certain criteria. These criteria consist of a homebound status, physician's orders, and medical skills which are required at least on an intermittent basis, and generally over a longer period of time. Home health care workers are almost always licensed, bonded, and insured, for the protection of both patients and the company providing the care.

The cost of home health care is generally covered by private insurances as well as Medicare and Medicaid, and sometimes also through private funding by individuals. Health care visits are generally coordinated by a person's physician, and they usually last for a period of between 30 and 60 days, depending on the kind of injury or illness which a patient has recently suffered. 

The goal of private duty care is to provide the patient with services that will help the client remain in their home and live comfortably while enjoying a reasonable level of quality of life. It is geared toward keeping a client safe and comfortable in their own home so that some other alternative such as assisted-living or moving to a nursing home can be avoided.

The combined services

Part of the reason why many people have confused private duty care with home health care is that the two services are often required by the same patient, and at the same time. A person who is recovering from a serious accident, for instance, might require physical therapy, skilled nursing services, and even the advice of a nutritionist in order to help with the recovery process.

At the same time, the individual having suffered through the accident might be disabled to the point where he/she is unable to perform many of the basic living tasks everyone has to go through. To help with bathing, grooming, and personal hygiene, it's very likely that a patient would need private duty care in addition to the home healthcare, especially in the absence of relatives who are able to provide some of those same services. Elderly people in particular, who often live alone and apart from their families, generally require both private duty care and home healthcare when recovering from an accident, or some kind of serious disease or illness.