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What is the Difference Between a Home Caregiver and a Home Health Aide?

When an elderly loved one starts struggling with daily tasks as they age, you may be concerned about their well-being. With this in mind, you may have looked at different options you have for having some take care of them at home, especially if you don’t want to put them in a retirement or nursing home. But the world of home care can be complex with the different roles and types of care that are available. This is why we prepared this blog post to help you determine what the difference is between a home health aide (HHA) and a caregiver. So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look.

What is a Home Health Aide?

An HHA, also called a health care assistant, is someone who has undergone specialised training and has certain certification – also known as home health aide certification – which enables them to not only provide personal care to your loved one but also variants of medical care in the comfort of your loved one’s home.

Some of the main duties and responsibilities of a health care assistant include doing medical tests, treating wounds, monitoring health status, physical, speech and occupational therapy as well as the administration of medication, IVs and shots. Although they are not qualified nurses, they are licensed to perform these medical functions and are often under the supervision of a nurse.

What is a Caregiver?

We now turn to the role of a caregiver. In particular, we answer the question: what are the duties of a caregiver? These individuals don’t require any prior licensing or certification or a limited number of hours worked prior to being appointed to the role. However, they must be responsible individuals because the well-being of their client rests with them.

In particular, caregivers’ duties lie around the following responsibilities:

  • Personal care: this may include dressing, grooming, bathing and toileting.
  • Offering medication reminders and management, especially if your loved one is forgetful.
  • The preparation of meals including shopping, cooking and cleaning up afterwards.
  • Light housekeeping and laundry, ensuring that your loved one has clean clothes and their environment is neat and hygienic.
  • They can also help with running errands such as going to the post office or pharmacy.
  • Offering companionship, social interaction and support as well as engaging in stimulating activities such as brain games.

What is the Difference Between a Home Caregiver and a Home Health Aide?

A frequently asked question that we encounter is the following: is a caregiver considered a healthcare worker? The short answer is no because of a variety of differences between a caregiver and healthcare assistant. Let’s take a look at some of the most critical distinguishing features.


Whereas an HHA will perform many of the duties that a caregiver performs, their role and responsibilities stretch a bit further to provide medical assistance as well. This is backed by additional medical certification which they have been awarded with as part of their specialist training. In addition to medical assistance, both types of carers can help with mobility and transportation support, meal preparation, housekeeping and laundry, bathing, shopping, incontinence care and more.


Although caregivers usually are not required to have specialist training or qualifications, they will often undertake courses related to strengthening and improving levels of communication and skills, emergency procedures, skills to maintain personal hygiene as well as other responsibilities. HHAs, on the other hand, are required to complete a certain number of hands-on training in order to achieve competency for the position. They are also required to pass an exam that is usually administered by a registered nurse.


Whereas HHAs require training and licensing as well as certifications and passing exams, most caregivers are not required to fulfil these mandatory requirements and basic skills training is often provided and received as one progresses in the career.

Final remarks

A caregiver and a home health aide both perform similar functions but there are some fundamental differences between the two roles. The main distinguishing feature is that home health aides are required to be registered and certified and must complete a certain number of hours of training and pass an exam. However, caregivers, which are often family members who carry out the role themselves, do not require specialist training and certification and this is why there are overlaps and sometimes confusion between the two roles in the industry.

Now that you have more clarity and knowledge about these distinctions, you can make a more informed decision about the specific type of elderly home care that is best suited for your elderly loved one. It’s always highly advisable and preferred by the client themselves to remain in the comfort of their own homes as they age and become more frail. But you don’t have to worry about their well-being with the right carer at their side.

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