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What is the Difference Between Home Health and Hospice?

When it comes to caring for aging friends or family members, it is important to understand the different types of care and provider options available.

While many health conditions require the services and resources offered in a hospital setting, there are a great many health conditions that can be addressed from the comfort of home. Two such services include home health and hospice care. 

When a person is receiving home health or hospice care, a doctor has completed orders for a team of caregivers to provide care in a person’s home. 

Home health and hospice care are used for different purposes and differ in the types of care provided, how long care is provided, and eligibility requirements. Understanding these distinctions is important for those helping loved ones make informed decisions about where and how they receive care. 

What is Home Health Care?

Home health care serves individuals recovering from illness, injury, or surgery. Skilled nurses, therapists, and other members of the care team act cohesively to accomplish the patient’s health goals. There is a stronger emphasis on supporting the recovery of a person and helping them transition back to living at home independently and managing their long-term symptoms through instruction and therapy.

What is Hospice Care?

Hospice is a concept of care focused on providing comfort, pain relief, and support to those faced with a terminal illness or life-limiting disease. It is considered a holistic approach to care as individuals and their loved ones navigate physical, spiritual, and emotional challenges at the end of life.


Home Health and Hospice Services and Care Teams

As services vary between the two care types, so do the care teams customized to provide them. 

People receiving home health and hospice care receive services through an interdisciplinary team that is assembled according to a person’s needs and goals. The following shows the difference between the two types of care.

Home Health: 

  • Skilled nurses 
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapists
  • Medical social workers
  • Home health aides

Hospice Care: 

  • Skilled nurses
  • Hospice aides
  • Medical social workers
  • Spiritual counselors & chaplains
  • Volunteer support & companionship
  • Speech, physical, and occupational therapists (If needed)
  • Physician oversight by a hospice medical director

Eligibility Criteria for Home Health and Hospice Care

Home health eligibility is determined by an individual’s ability to receive necessary care in a home setting under a care plan carefully supervised by a physician. For individuals healthy enough to leave a hospital or short-term care setting, teams of professionals deliver various elements of the care plan from the comfort of home. The following are key eligibility criteria:

  • Must be under a care plan closely supervised by a physician
  • A physician must certify that the individual requires intermittent skilled nursing care, or physical, speech-language pathology, or continued occupational therapy services. 
  • A physician must certify that the individual is homebound.

Hospice eligibility is determined by a medical provider who must assess that an individual has less than 6 months to live due to a life-limiting, terminal illness. During qualification and subsequent care, the individual does not need to be homebound. Individuals may receive care that relates to hospice diagnosis in a variety of settings, including at home or at inpatient facilities like hospitals or nursing homes.

Learn more about eligibility for hospice care here.

Constellation’s Complete Care At Home Model

In many states,  Constellation provides both home health and hospice care services, serving patients with a continuum of care from wherever they call home. As part of this continuum, we surround people with the right team, tools, and resources they need to recover comfortably and avoid hospitalization when managing their symptoms.

If the time comes, patients are able to seamlessly transition from home health into hospice care, and, on occasion, the transition from hospice care back to home health, if their condition improves. Our integrated, team-based care model ensures that patients and their families have comfortable transitions as care goals evolve with time. 

Contact a Constellation Office in Your State to Learn More

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