by Lisa Conway – Hometown News

Q: My mother-in-law is coming home from rehab. What is the difference between home health care and private duty in-home care?

A: Choosing between home health care and private duty in-home care is all about the extent of care that will be required at home when returning from a rehab facility or the hospital.

Home health care is typically skilled care and is covered under your medical insurance. It may consist of a nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist or other skilled providers. They will usually visit one to three times weekly, for 45 minutes to an hour. They set goals for care and assist the client in meeting those goals. Once the goals are met, the services cease.

Private duty care is for clients who require more intensive, hands-on care for an extended period. Staffers may be a certified nursing assistant, home health care aide, registered nurse, social worker, care manager or any combination of those individuals. Private duty care is typically not covered by insurance, although some long-term care policies may cover costs. The care is usually scheduled in four-hour blocks and services may include help with dressing, bathing, grooming, toileting, transferring, transportation, laundry, meal prep, light housekeeping and socialization.

Often, home health care and private duty services are provided simultaneously! When this happens, regular communication between the providers helps ensure the client makes the desired progress. Once the rehabilitation goals have been met and home health care services end, it is not uncommon for private duty services to continue.

To recap, a patient returning home may receive home health care services, private duty services, or both– depending on their need.  Home health services will most likely be covered under their medical insurance, whereas private duty will not. However, a good long-term care policy may pick up some or all of the costs of private duty services. Still not sure? Schedule a free 30-minute consultation at One Senior Place to discuss your situation.


One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at

Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera.