Long-Term Care and Home Care:
Similarities and Differences
Medford Leas is a vibrant continuing care retirement community in Medford, New Jersey where you can take advantage of comprehensive long-term care in a natural setting that includes scenic woodlands, trails, streams and wildflower meadows.
For individuals who can no longer remain in their homes without assistance, several options are available. Both long-term care and home care can provide you or your family member with the resources required to live safely and comfortably. The best choice for you will depend on a variety of factors, including available services, costs and your specific needs and preferences.
To assist you as you research long-term care and home care in your area, we’ve compiled information about both options to get you started. We invite you to read on to learn more about how each type of care works, the services you can expect, how to choose a provider and the similarities and differences.
What Is Home Care?
Home care provides an option for individuals who wish to age in place within their existing homes, without the need to move. By contracting with a home care provider, you or your family member can receive assistance with activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, eating and taking medications. In addition, you can get help with household tasks that contribute to safety and well-being.
In many cases, companionship also serves as a primary purpose for contracting with a home care provider. Some people also choose home care as a temporary option if they are coping with an illness, injury or a recovery period after surgery or a hospital stay. Home health care — either on a temporary or permanent basis — may include medical services, depending on the needs of the individual and the type of care offered by a specific provider.
The care you receive from a provider will depend on availability in your area. If you need a comprehensive range of services, it may be necessary to contract with more than one provider for medical, personal care, household and companionship assistance.
Services Provided Through Home Care
Individuals who need assistance in their homes can choose among several types of home care, with different services available. For non-medical home care, services may include assistance with bathing, dressing, using the restroom, eating, taking medications and transferring to and from bed or chairs.
In addition, home care may include household assistance, such as shopping and preparing meals, cleaning, transportation, laundry, routine maintenance and lawn care. Home care assistants also may act as personal companions by spending time with individuals and by accompanying them to personal and medical appointments, religious services, social engagements, family events and other activities.
Medical home health care, meanwhile, may include a variety of services that make it possible for an individual with health needs to remain in their private home. Services may include administering intravenous therapies and medications, cleaning and dressing wounds, giving injections and monitoring the individual for any indications of the need for a higher level of medical care. Individuals also may contract for services like physical, occupational and speech therapies within their homes.
Home care and home health care are often referred to interchangeably, but they are distinct types of services. In general, home care providers offer only non-clinical care, including personal care, household duties and companionship.
Choosing Home Care
Before you hire a home care or home health care professional for yourself or a relative, consider the specific details of your situation and the services you believe you will require. You’ll also want to take precautions to ensure that you are working with a licensed and reputable professional or agency. Conduct some research online, and speak with your doctor for referrals.
Think about how you will screen potential care providers, and consider conducting background checks before allowing someone to come into your home or that of your family member. Prepare a list of questions that you will ask before hiring someone. For example, if you hire an individual, you may want to know about the type and scope of work done previously, licenses or certifications, availability of transportation, available working hours, any restrictions on types of work to be done, any criminal convictions and how long the caregiver can continue providing services to you. Also, consider asking for several references you can call with questions.
If you choose to contract with an agency, consider asking how the company screens its professionals and what experience and credentials are required. In addition, you may want to ask about training, services provided and any restrictions on the type of assistance a caregiver can provide.
What Is Long-Term Care?
Long-term care — also known as continuing care — includes several levels of assistance to fit the needs of the individual. Typically, long-term care communities may include independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing. Individuals who enter independent living generally should be able to live on their own without significant assistance with daily activities. However, independent living residents benefit from the many services and amenities provided, including meals, transportation, housekeeping, maintenance, landscaping, security and a variety of activities and social opportunities.
Assisted living offers many of the same amenities and services as independent living, with the addition of personal care services. For individuals who need assistance with daily activities — including dressing, bathing, eating and taking medications — assisted living offers an ideal supportive environment that provides for maximum independence and freedom.
Skilled nursing is a medical environment that is appropriate for individuals who are recovering from serious illness, injury, surgery or a hospital stay. People with chronic health conditions that require continuing nursing care also can benefit from skilled nursing care. Skilled nursing communities typically provide all meals, transportation, personal care assistance, housekeeping, maintenance and security, along with needed nursing services as well as planned activities and social opportunities.
Services Provided in Long-Term Care
Long-term care communities provide the comprehensive range of services and amenities you or your family member will need to live comfortably regardless of health concerns. In independent living and assisted living, residents enjoy services such as dining, transportation, maintenance and housekeeping, security and an array of scheduled activities. In addition, residents of assisted living receive personal care assistance, including help with taking medications, bathing, dressing and eating.
In both assisted living and independent living, residents have access to a wide variety of community amenities, such as fitness centers and activity paths, classrooms and other community spaces, art studios, game rooms, gift shops, beauty salons, pools and spas, woodworking shops, dining venues, libraries and others.
Within skilled nursing, residents receive complete support for cognitive and physical needs. Services may include a comprehensive range of nursing care, including pain and medication management, occupational and speech therapies, orthopedic rehabilitation and wound care.
Choosing Long-Term Care
As with home care, it’s prudent to spend some time researching before settling on a long-term care provider for yourself or a family member. You can find a significant amount of information online, but visiting in person is also important to get a feel for communities before making your decision.
During a visit to a community, consider the overall atmosphere; would you or your relative feel comfortable calling the community home? In addition, try to talk to some residents to find out more about their daily lives, their likes and dislikes, and what factors they considered in choosing the community. When you talk with staff members, ask about the provided services, staff training, and the process for becoming a resident.
Long-Term Care and Home Care: Similarities and Differences
Home care and long-term care are two different options with the same goal: providing you or your family member with a safe, enjoyable and comfortable lifestyle at any level of ability or medical need. The choice that works best for you will depend on your individual personality, whether you prefer to live in a community or remain in your home, and the types of services and amenities you desire.
With home care, you can choose to remain within your current living situation. However, vetting home care agencies or individual caregivers can become a significant responsibility, and finding reliable backup care in the event of an emergency can present challenges as well.
If you choose long-term care, you’ll need to move out of your private home and into a community — and you may need to downsize your belongings in the process. However, you gain a welcoming environment with beautifully landscaped grounds and elegant common spaces to enjoy. You also benefit from a range of services as well as access to activities and social opportunities.
At Medford Leas in Medford, New Jersey, an accredited continuing care community spans two campuses and offers a unique supportive-living experience. To learn more about our community, please contact us.