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What’s the Difference Between Home Care and Hospice?

If you find yourself in a place where you need to explore your options for residential care, either for yourself or a loved one, chances are you’ve heard the terms home care, home health, and hospice thrown around. But what do they mean? What do you need?

In this post we’ll explore the question of “What’s the difference between home care and hospice?

In this brief home care guide, the California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH) defines home health, home care (also known as home care aide) and hospice organizations as follows:

Licensed Home Health Agencies: Provide skilled nursing services (part time/intermittent), therapy services (physical, speech, or occupational therapy) medical social services and home health aide services. They employ physicians, registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, certified home health aides, nutritional specialists, and social workers. They often accept private pay and private health insurance.

Home Care Aide Organizations: Provide non-medical personal care support with activities of daily living, such as meal preparation, bathing, toileting, and dressing. Services may include housekeeping, transportation, assistance with handling finances and companionship. They employ caregivers which may be certified nurse assistants or certified home health aides. They often accept private pay, and private health insurance.

Hospices: Provide palliative care, psychological, and spiritual care for the terminally ill and support for their families. They employ physicians, registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, certified home health aides, nutritional specialists, social workers and spiritual counselors. They often accept private pay, private health insurance, Medi-Cal and Medicare.


Canaan Home Care is a home care (home care aide organization) providing non-medical services for individuals with disabilities or illnesses. Most of our caregivers are licensed Medical Assistants, Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs), Home Health Aides (HHAs), Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs), or Registered Nurses (RNs). We offer the following home health services:

  • Personal Care – bathing, dressing, grooming, skin care, range of motion activities
  • Homemaking – light housekeeping, laundry, meal planning, cooking & cleaning, transportation, shopping & errands, pet & plant care
  • Personal Assistance – transfers, ambulation, bathroom assistance, medication, feeding, recording intake and output
  • Companionship – gardening, playing games, reading, events & outings


The CAHSAH home care guide also provides these handy questions to ask to help you determine what kind of home care you require and what home care agency to choose:

  • What kind of care is required?
  • What level of care is required?
  • How will the care be paid for?
  • Do I qualify for Medicare or Medi-Cal?
  • How much of my care will I be responsible to pay for?
  • Is the provider licensed by the State, certified by Medicare/Medi-Cal, accredited by an independent accrediting body, or CAHSAH certified?
  • Does your physician know your provider?
  • Will your provider be working with your physician?
  • How long has the provider been in the community?
  • What is the provider’s reputation?
  • Does the provider belong to a Home Care Association?
  • What are the provider’s procedures for safety, such as handling an emergency?
  • Are references provided?

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