What's the Difference Between a Personal Aide and a Home Health Aide?

5 answers | Last updated: Oct 30, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

What's the difference between a personal aide and a home health aide?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Voorlas is a geriatric care manager in Los Angeles, California, and president of Geriatric Care Consultants. She has a master's degree in gerontology from the University of Southern California and is certified by NACCM, the National Academy of Certified Care Managers.

The main difference between a personal aide and a home health aide is in the level of medical care they provide. Although personal aides typically have home health aide certification (which involves competing a 76-hour, nurse-supervised training program), they provide mostly personal care -- such as bathing, grooming, and dressing. The medical care that personal aides provide is usually limited to such things as medication reminders, dental care, and assistance with toileting and incontinence.

Home health aides have more specialized training than personal aides. Usually a home health aide is a certified nursing assistant (CNA) who's supervised by a nurse. Often, home health aides work for certified nursing or hospice agencies that receive government funding and therefore must comply with regulations regarding documentation, medical supervision, and paperwork. Usually a doctor orders home health if an older adult is determined to be unable to care for himself or herself -- during postsurgery rehabilitation, for example -- and is therefore more likely to be covered by insurance.

Home health aides typically help administer medications and can help older adults with prescribed exercises and physical therapy routines. With proper training, they can change simple dressings, give massages, and assist with braces and mobility devices. Also, with specialized training, a home health aide can operate and troubleshoot medical equipment such as home oxygen or ventilators. A nurse continues to provide oversight as long as the home health aide is in place.

Community Answers

The kingbird answered...

I have been in under the care of a home health personal care person under the supervision of a local nursing service provided by Medicare. This being because my doctor's orders said that I was not to be left alone at any time, night or day. Things being like they are, my loving wife had to leave her job to accompany me full time since we could not afford 24 hour help or even 16 hour help.

This meant that my wife had to get me ready to ride with her to go do personal errands, get groceries, etc., but that was a fault with her care of me. I WAS CONSIDERED HOME BOUND!!! If was homebound, how was I to go with her on errands, etc, no matter how much pain it put me in and no matter what effort it took for her to get me loaded in the car to take me with her. At times thisd has resulted in my missing my personal aide that baths me. etc., from the nmursing service. The service is very adamant about me beinmg here when they come out for their visit.

I am now looking into going into the Cash & Consuling program (called CDO in Kentucky) which will pay my wife for some of the duties that she is already doing. The rules stay very much the same, but I can hire anyone that I want to be my personal aide whenever I want them and at the rate that I want to pay them from a fixed amount paid for those services. The m ore I look the more I get confused. Advice?

Emily m. answered...

Hi the kingbird,

Thanks for your question. If you'd like, you can post your own Ask & Answer question, here

Take care, Emily | Community Manager

Jxsilvas answered...

i do not understand your answer. it seems that regardless a Personal Care Aide and a Home Health Aide must be supervised by a Nurse when it comes to medication. Therefore, they are both personal aides. Did I get this wrong?

Grandma14 answered...

The personal care aid cannot give medication or any thing like insulin injections, oxygen, or anything medical. She can remind you to do it.