A: Home health agencies provide HEALTH care. I stress this because many people confuse home health agencies with companionship services. While both types of care help people to stay at home, companions cannot bathe you, administer medicine or provide any real health care. They may call themselves in-home care or caregiver services, but they are NOT the same thing as a home health care agency. So, be extremely specific when you speak to an agency that says it provides home care. If you need any assistance beyond what a regular person (meaning completely untrained in any medical field) can do, you want a home health care agency, not companion services. If you simply want some help with cooking and cleaning, a companion service is just fine. Either way, you will want to ask about the staff and their qualifications. Basically, a true home health care agency can help you with most of the activities of daily living such as bathing, cooking, toileting and also with assistance with medication and light housekeeping. They may have some restrictions such as being unable to lift a totally bedridden person, but they will usually tell you that in advance.

Home health care agencies often provide:
Skilled nursing care services: A level of care that must be given or supervised by registered nurses. Examples: getting intravenous injections, tube feeding, oxygen, changing sterile dressings on a wound.

Speech pathology services: This includes problems with speech, language, and swallowing.

Physical therapy services: Treatment of injury and disease by mechanical means, such as heat, light, exercise, and massage.

Medical social services: These services assist with social and emotional concerns and may include counseling or help in finding resources in the community.

Occupational therapy: Services given to help return to usual activities such as bathing, preparing meals, and housekeeping after illness either on an inpatient or outpatient basis.

Home health aide services: Services to help with daily living activities such as bathing, getting dressed, etc.