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Hospice Care vs Home Health Care: What’s the Difference

Hospice vs Home Health Care: What's the Difference

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Last Updated on September 26, 2021 by Frank Davis

There are a number of similarities between hospice and home health care, however they employ different approaches, each serving a different group of patients with distinctive needs and objectives.

A hospice care program provides comfort to patients with a terminal illness when curative medical interventions are no longer working. Typically, home health care is viewed as curative, in that it assists patients to recover from injuries or illnesses, or to help them meet their functional goals.

Throughout this article, we will explore the differences between home health care and hospice care.

Hospice Care

Hospice care specializes in providing care to individuals who are suffering from a terminal illness. Generally physicians and nurses receive additional education and training in order to be able to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual support to patients and their families. Hospice is designed to reduce pain and symptoms associated with terminal illnesses, so that patients can remain comfortable during their final days.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that hospice care is really a team effort that includes doctors, nurses, therapists, counselors, health aides, volunteers, etc. Each team member plays an important role in the care and comfort given to the patients and their families.

Listed below are a few of the services that hospice care provides:

  • Nursing services: As part of the hospice program, a case manager nurse is assigned to each patient, who usually visits for one to three days per week. There is also an on-call nurse available 24 hours a day to help patients and caregivers if the need arises.
  • Physician participation: The hospice medical directors are in constant coordination with their patients’ regular physicians in order to provide the best possible care.
  • Medical social services: Social workers are assigned to each patient to assist with their psychological and/or social care needs.
  • Counseling services: Hospice patients and/or their relatives may require nutritional assistance, spiritual and pastoral support, as well as bereavement counseling after the patient has passed.
  • Home-health aide: They usually meet with patients two or three times per week to assist them with getting dressed, bathing, grooming, etc.
  • Medication: Hospice typically covers all medications related to the hospice diagnosis and those intended to control or alleviate pain and symptoms.
  • Medical equipment: Hospice provides the equipment necessary to provide a safe, comfortable, caring environment in the patient’s home. These supplies might include, for example, a hospital bed, a wheelchair, and oxygen, as well as adult diapers, bandages, and latex gloves.
  • Respite care: This form of temporary, short-term assistance can help alleviate or avoid caregiver burnout and stress.
  • Therapists: If appropriate, hospice might provide a physical, occupational and/or speech-language therapist.
  • Additional assistance: Some individual hospice agencies might also provide additional services through volunteer and/or charity programs.
Further Reading:
What Are the Four Levels of Hospice Care
Hospice nurse assisting a hospice patient laying down

Home Health Care

Essentially, the aim of short-term home health care is to provide treatment for individuals who have been ill or injured. It is an effective way of restoring your strength and allowing you to become as independent as possible. For people who suffer from chronic illness or disability, long-term home health care is aimed at maintaining their best level of health or capability and teaching them how to cope with their disease or disability in a comfortable and manageable way.

Listed below are a few of the services that home health care provides:

  • Nursing services – Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs), both of which are qualified to perform the following duties under the orders of your physician, are able to perform such tasks as wound care, medications management, and glucose monitoring.
  • Physical therapy – To provide a physician prescribed treatment in an effort to assist, aid in the development, and restore the function of muscles and joints.
  • Occupational therapy – Provide patients with assistance that will enable them to regain their ability to take care of themselves and carry on with their daily activities.
  • Speech therapy – To be able to assist patients with impaired communication skills through either helping them to regain those skills or to help them learn ways of expressing their needs and feelings with alternative methods.
  • Social services – Social workers have been trained to help patients and their families cope with the effects of illness or disability on their personal and emotional wellbeing. The social worker will also help you find professional assistance programs, such as home meal delivery or support groups, as well as financial resources.
  • Home health aide – Certified Aides are available to assist with patients’ personal care and hygiene needs and to provide nursing care under direct supervision by an RN if the individual requires it.
  • Dietary Services – Registered dietitians are capable of providing nutrition counseling, instruction on nutritional principles, dietary plans for patients, and educating them on the importance of eating foods that are healthy.
Home Health Care


As a general rule, it is not recommended to mix up the type of care you need with another type of care that is available. For example, if you suffer from a terminal illness and require hospice care, you don’t want to receive home health care as a substitute. The focus of home health care is precisely on recovery, whether it is from an illness or through an accident, whereas hospice care focuses more on the treatment of pain and symptoms associated with terminal illnesses.

Further Reading:
Can A Hospice Patient Go To The Emergency Room Or Hospital

In the case of hospice patients who are terminally ill, it is unlikely that they would prefer staff to force them to do exercises so that they gain some mobility back. Hospice care is specific to those at the end of their lives, as it provides medications, a chaplain, grief counseling, and all the medication and other assistance needed to manage the pain and symptoms.

In order to obtain information about whether hospice care or home health services are the best option for you, feel free to contact us at (818)433-0068.

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Author: Frank Davis

After working in the healthcare field for over ten years, Frank Davis has developed considerable expertise and offers you valuable insights into the industry through blogs. He has published blogs for Hospice Valley, Senior Home Care, and 24 Hour Care, and in his leisure time, Frank enjoys reading and writing.

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