Home Nursing Care vs. Personal Home Care Assistance: What’s the Difference?

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aging senior sitting on a couch

Understanding the differences in care for elderly adults can be confusing, like the difference between personal care and nursing care

Are you an adult child with a parent who needs help with personal care?

Have you looked into skilled nursing care and personal home care assistance?

Do you know the difference between home nursing services and personal care for the elderly?

The terms “in-home nurse” and “in-home caregiver” may sound similar, but they aren’t the same thing when it comes to eldercare. And if you aren’t sure of the difference, you may not know which one is right for your loved one.

In this article, we’re sharing expert information on home care assistance for aging seniors. We’ll define personal care and answer the question, “What is nursing care?”

Continue reading to learn more about in-home personal care vs. nursing care for aging adults.

The Difference Between Personal Care and Nursing Care

Though seemingly similar, home nursing care and in-home personal care are two different services for elderly adults.

Here’s a closer look at skilled nursing care and at-home personal care for the elderly.

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Skilled Nursing Care

What is nursing care? Nursing care is any care performed by a trained nurse, specifically a registered nurse.

Most registered nurses have a four-year college degree, and every nurse must pass a national nursing certification exam.

Nurses have extensive medical training and have the ability to:

  • Listen to and understand a patient’s medical needs
  • Administer shots or other medications
  • Perform a physical exam
  • Draw blood and perform other health-related tests
  • Coordinate with other healthcare professionals in a medical setting

Most nurses work at medical facilities like hospitals or doctor’s offices, aiding other healthcare professionals in caring for patients.

Skilled nursing care often involves a nurse working in tandem with other healthcare workers to create and implement a nursing care plan for the patient. The nursing care plan is put in place to help the nurse know what the patient needs and how to meet those needs.

What Is In-home Nursing Care for Seniors?

There are some companies and hospitals that provide home nursing care to aging seniors. These home care nurses enter a patient’s home and provide care according to the nursing care plan.

Individuals who require home nursing services often have chronic illnesses, sicknesses, or medical needs that hinder them from going to and from a medical facility. Many of them may also be bedridden.

Home nursing care is an excellent option for aging adults with serious medical needs.

However, many seniors may not need regular medical attention. They may still be independent and simply need someone to help with personal care and daily tasks.     

Personal Care for Elderly Adults

Personal care for elderly adults differs from skilled nursing care.  Trained in-home caregivers perform personal care duties, not nurses.

In-home caregivers receive training in assisting elderly adults with daily life activities, but caregivers don’t have medical training—they can’t perform medical-related tasks. However, some home care companies have a care management model, where registered nurses work closely with caregivers to ensure personal care and home nursing care for clients.

Whereas skilled nursing care often focuses purely on medical care, a personal caregiver provides hands-on assistance to elderly adults to help improve their daily quality of life. 

The main goal of a personal caregiver is to provide aging seniors with the ability to age in the comfort of their own homes. They also help provide respite and peace of mind to family caregivers, like adult children or spouses.

There are three main areas where caregivers provide care: 

  1. Personal care
  2. Support services
  3. Transportation assistance

Here’s more detail about what these caregiver roles entail.

Personal Care

Personal care involves helping aging adults with activities of daily living (ADLs). 

These daily life tasks may include:

  • Bathing, dressing, and grooming
  • Toileting and incontinence support
  • Feeding
  • Transfers and ambulations
  • In-home memory care

Seniors with more severe mobility issues or dealing with late-stage dementia can often benefit greatly from a caregiver assisting with personal care.

Support Services

Caregivers can also provide an extra set of hands for seniors who are still largely independent. For example, an in-home caregiver can assist with:

  • Meal prep
  • Laundry 
  • Light housekeeping
  • Bill pay
  • Errand services

Sometimes, elderly adults can live alone but could benefit from some extra help.

Transportation Assistance

Driving can become more challenging for adults as they age, but many still need to get around to different activities or medical appointments.

Personal caregivers are required to have a valid driver’s license and an available vehicle so they can transport clients to and from:

  • Grocery stores
  • Health care appointments
  • Social engagements and events

A personal caregiver is an excellent option for any elderly adult who can’t drive themselves anymore.

Expert Personal Home Care Assistance

Home nursing care and in-home personal care are both services that seek to help elderly adults as they age. However, there are some differences between personal care and nursing care

Trained nurses who have finished a nursing program and passed the national examination perform skilled nursing care. They have medical training and often work closely with other healthcare professionals to create and implement a nursing care plan

There’s in-home nursing care for seniors who are bedridden or in a situation where they can’t access medical facilities. However, most nurses work in medical facilities, like hospitals and doctor’s offices.

On the other hand, personal care involves assisting elderly adults with daily life tasks or household chores. Trained personal caregivers enter into a senior’s home to help provide a better quality of life for these aging adults. A caregiver’s purpose is to help elderly adults live independently and age in the comfort of their homes.

Some personal care agencies use an integrated model of personal and nursing care. In these integrated models, caregivers and registered nurses work in tandem to meet a client’s medical and personal care needs.  

At Stowell Associates, we’ve used an integrated Care Management model for decades. Our Registered Nurses and Master’s-level Social Workers collaborate with our in-home Caregivers to provide comprehensive care. Care Managers work with families to create a personalized care plan for their loved ones. Caregivers enter the client’s home to implement the care plan in person. As care continues, Care Managers and Caregivers communicate regularly to make adjustments to the care plan and ensure quality of care.

Contact us today to talk with our Care Advisors. They’ll answer your questions about personal home care and share how personal home care assistance can help your aging loved one age in place.

In-home elder care solutions in Southeastern Wisconsin

Contact us for a free consultation

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