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Lisa could feel anxiety welling up. “You might need home health, definitely home care, probably not hospice yet…” Listening to the social worker describe different types of care her mother would need upon leaving the hospital was making her head spin. And the growing stack of brochures was making her arm tired.

Caring for an aging loved one at home can be daunting and complicated. Different needs require different types of care. And the lingo can easily confuse the uniformed. Did Lisa’s mom need home care or hospice? Are they the same? Should she call home health? What even is palliative care?

We at Carolina Health Care want to help prepare you. Let this simple guide help you understand what solutions best meet your needs now or in the future. 

Home Health

Home health is rendered by licensed nurses, therapists, and social workers in the home, similar to care provided in a hospital setting. These services include physical, occupational, and speech therapy; skilled nursing (wound care, intravenous therapy, injections); and social work. 

Home health typically follows a hospitalization and is short in duration (30-60 days). The care provided by a home health agency is usually limited in frequency (usually 1-3 visits a week) and primarily funded by federally-managed Medicare. The best home health providers work hard to ensure their clients aren’t readmitted to the hospital for the same issue. 

The hospital is discharging Lisa’s mom, who will need to rehabilitate through therapy or have a surgical site monitored as it heals. Therefore, she would need to contact a home health agency. 

Home Care

If a loved one struggling with dementia or debilitated by an illness desires to remain at home for the long term, home care (what Carolina Health Care does) would be appropriate. Services include companionship, errands, light housekeeping, assisting with tasks such as eating, bathing, or reminding to take medications. Caregivers from a home care agency help combat loneliness, helplessness, and boredom and can help preserve independence.

Home care workers can have a variety of training or certifications. In general, they are in the home for extended periods of time and perform a variety of functions for their client. The best providers train their employees well and ensure they are dependable. Additionally, they will offer robust communication and support to their clients.

For the most part, neither major medical insurance nor traditional Medicare* pay for home care services. (*Some Medicare Advantage plans are experimenting with a home care benefit). Most often, the cost of home care is covered by family funds and assets, a long-term care insurance policy, or a state managed, needs-based program like Medicaid.

Lisa’s mother, who lives alone, is now going to have a hard time preparing her own meals or even getting up and about each day. Accordingly, Lisa needs to contact a home care agency.


When a doctor gives someone a terminal diagnosis of six months or less, hospice care is beneficial. Agencies providing hospice services are a great comfort to families as they provide symptom and pain management. What’s more, they offer 24/7 access to medical care, limited personal care for the patient, and mental, emotional, and spiritual support through their chaplaincies. One important note: hospice nurses and physicians become the first point of contact for the terminally ill.

The Medicare Hospice Benefit typically pays for hospice care. Additionally, it will provide for the medical equipment needed in the home. The best hospice agencies have a reputation for being compassionate and attentive while a family copes with a difficult season.

Doctors believe Lisa’s mother has a terminal illness and Lisa wants to ensure her mother is well cared for and comfortable. She should therefore contact a hospice agency.

Palliative Care

Palliative care can provide someone battling a life-altering illness comfort and care. Although similar to hospice, a family can utilize palliative care when there is a curative outlook to a disease process. Palliative care teams provide support for the patient’s physical needs as well as their social and emotional needs. 

While some Medicare plans, major medical policies, and Medicaid provide limited coverage for palliative Care, a family will want to carefully understand their benefits and options when making this choice. Great Palliative care agencies ensure they’re responsive to their patient’s needs and have a proven record of excellent support. 

Lisa’s mom is going home with a cancer diagnosis requiring extensive therapies. As a result, Lisa will want to call a palliative care provider to help manage the treatment.

Common Care

As seen above, home health, hospice, and palliative care are specific services for certain circumstances. Home care, however, is a common thread of care throughout a client’s health journey. The best home care agencies frequently work alongside the other types of providers, offering valuable long-term and ongoing personal care for the client and support to a family.

Lisa has difficult challenges ahead of her. With the right information and appropriate type of care, nevertheless, she can have peace of mind knowing she’s enabling her mother to thrive at home.


About - Ryan Thompson

Ryan Thompson has been with Carolina Health Care for over 5 years. He has a hand in just about every aspect of the company and enjoys helping people have what they need to thrive. Ryan, his wife Heather, love the beach and being active outdoors.

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