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What is the Difference Between a Home Health Aide and a Caregiver?

home health aide vs caregiver

Everything You Need to Know About Home Health Aides (HHA) and Caregivers

As you age, it can become more difficult to take care of everyday tasks. Activities such as dressing, grooming, running errands, and meal preparation can become hard to do, perhaps even dangerous as older adults are at an increased risk for falls. If your loved one is having difficulty with daily tasks and missing medication reminders, but still wants to have some independence, you are probably considering a seniors’ living home, a registered nurse, home care services or a caregiver.

As a family member, it can be confusing sifting through all of the options for medical services, personal care and home health. Whether your loved one needs medical care, or just help with everyday tasks, here is what you need to know about the difference between home health aides (HHA) and caregivers.

Services Caregivers Provide

Caregivers, sometimes referred to as a personal care aide, provide non-medical home care services for older adults or impaired patients. They are able to provide assistance with daily tasks that allow your loved one to live more independently at home for longer.

The services that caregivers provide include:

  • Personal care and hygiene assistance (e.g. dressing, grooming, bathing, etc.)
  • Meal preparation and assistance at meal time
  • Mobility assistance to help prevent falls
  • Running errands
  • Light housekeeping (e.g. laundry, dusting, cleaning counters)
  • Medication reminders
  • Assistance with paying bills
  • Relief or respite for a family member who is a caregiver

Services Caregivers Do Not Provide

It is important for family members to remember that caregivers do not provide any sort of medical care. Caregivers are ideal for older adults who do not wish to live in a seniors’ living home or impaired patients who do not need medical attention in their own home. Caregivers can, however, take your loved one to doctor’s appointments.

Services a Home Health Aide Provides

Home health aides (HHA) are medical professionals who work for a home care services agency. While they are part of a medical team that includes a registered nurse, the home health aide is assigned to help with personal care tasks such as dressing, grooming and toileting.

The services that home health aides (HHA) provide includes:

  • Hygiene assistance (e.g. bathing, toileting, oral care)
  • Personal care assistance (e.g. dressing, grooming)
  • Medication reminders and administering medications
  • Assistance at meal time
  • Mobility assistance
  • Respite care for a family member who is the primary caregiver for the patient

Services a Home Health Aide Does Not Provide

It’s key that the family members note that a home health aide is part of a medical care team that provides both personal care and home health services. The medical professionals on the care team (e.g. registered nurse or certified nursing assistant) attend to the medical care while the home health aide provides the personal care services. This means that in order to receive the help of a home health aide, your loved one must require medical services in their own home due to a specific health condition or mobility issue that keeps them from leaving their home easily.

However, as a professional in the medical field, home health aides (HHA) do receive formal training from the care and home health agency they work for. They also report any concerns about a patient’s health that they observe to the medical members of the care team, which means more eyes on your loved one.

While they do provide personal care services, there are some services that they do not provide, such as meal preparation, running errands, paying bills, or light housekeeping.

Deciding Between a Home Health Aide and a Caregiver

As a family member, it’s important to make the right decision for your loved one and their specific needs. To help make your decision, write down all of your loved ones needs, such as help with daily tasks, dressing, grooming, medical care, and other tasks. Knowing which services your loved one needs will help you make the right choice for their unique needs.

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