When it comes to finding care for a loved one, figuring out which option is most appropriate can be somewhat confusing, as a number of the terms used in home health care sound similar. Part of the confusion with home care vs. hospice care is that, while hospice care generally takes place win the home, it’s a very different thing than the similar-sounding term “home care.” 

This guide explains the differences between home care and hospice care, what both of these types of care cost and in which situations each kind of care is most appropriate.  

Home Care

Hospice Care


At home

At home, a nursing home or a hospice facility

Care Provided

Typically non-medical, such as housekeeping, cooking, driving and companionship

Pain and symptom management 

Average Monthly Cost

$26 an hour or $4,506 a month for 40 hours of weekly care; may be partially covered by Medicare

Ranges from approximately $150 a day for in-home care to $1,000 a day for care in a facility; generally fully covered by Medicare

Who Should Consider It

Those who need help around the house, ranging from light housekeeping to more intimate activities such as toileting and bathing

Patients who have 6 months or less to live

Home Care

Home care is, most often, nonmedical care. With home care, which is sometimes called in-home care, an aide provides a client with the custodial help they need to go about their life in their own house or apartment. Such activities may include cooking, bathing and cleaning. In addition to providing socialization and companionship, home care allows a patient to remain in their home rather than move into a care facility. 

The cost for home care averages $26 an hour for an aide, which comes out to $4,506 a month if 40 hours of care are required per week.  

There are three main types of home care. The first two are nonmedical, while the third requires a  trained or licensed nurse or therapist.

Companion Care

With companion care, a home care aide performs services such as making clients’ meals, driving clients to appointments or other errands and performing light cleaning. Sometimes, aides may simply watch TV with or read aloud to clients. Their role is to be a helper around the house, as well as perform the social function of making their client feel less isolated.

Personal Care

This is for clients who need more assistance than companion care provides. Home care aides give clients a greater level of personal service that includes shopping for their clients and helping them get dressed, use the restroom and bathe. This type of home care is often necessary when someone needs a good deal of help around the house and can no longer independently perform adequate personal care but isn’t ready to make the move to assisted living.

Home Health Care

Unlike the first two categories, this level of home care has a medical component that goes beyond simple assistance around the house. Home health aides can give clients injections, perform occupational and physical therapy, and monitor clients’ oxygen tubes and catheters. As a result, aides who perform this level of home care are licensed nurses or therapists, as opposed to untrained personal aides who can perform the first two categories of home care listed above.

Hospice Care

Hospice care is for patients who have 6 months or less to live. At this point in the patient’s journey, curing them is no longer possible, so the focus shifts from a curative approach to a caring approach — making the patient’s final days as comfortable and painless as possible. In other words, the purpose of hospice care is to focus on the person instead of their disease treatment.

While many people probably think of hospice care as taking place at home, hospice treatment can also be given at a nursing home, hospital or hospice facility. 

Costs for hospice vary, depending on whether the care is at home, in a hospice facility or in a nursing home, and if periodic care is needed or more around-the-clock attention. Hospice care tends to cost less than many medical situations because medical procedures aren’t being continuously administered as they might be in a long hospital stay where the focus is getting the patient back to health. Home hospice care can cost in the neighborhood of $150 a day, while care in a hospice facility can reach $1,000 a day. The good news is that Medicare generally covers all costs of hospice care.

The following are the two general types of hospice care.

Hospice Care at Home

With this type of hospice service, home health aides, nurses and social workers visit the patient in their house during their final days. Depending on the severity of the patient’s symptoms, nurses may attend the patient periodically, remain in the house for long stretches or even stay with them 24 hours a day. 

Hospice Care in a Facility

This type of hospice care is for those in a severe state that requires constant monitoring and medical interventions. Specialized facilities employ trained hospice nurses for this kind of care, and the facilities are often more home-like than a typical hospital room, with generous visiting hours and living room-type furniture. The goal is to make a patient feel like they’re at home even though they’re in too advanced a stage to be there.