Private Duty Nursing vs. Home Health: What's the Difference?

July 26, 2022

As parents, we quickly learn that caring for a child is a team effort, and this is especially true for children with special needs.

Your child’s doctor may decide that your child’s medical needs require additional attention and home visits. When this decision is made, the doctor may prescribe private duty nursing or home health. However, these two services are often confused with each other, making it challenging for parents to know what to expect from the service, and what care they will have to arrange on their own.

If you find yourself in the middle of this confusion, PediCare is here to help. Let’s start by outlining the roles of each form of care.

Roles of a Private Nurse

  • provide one-on-one, long-term care
  • collaborate with other family members and healthcare professionals caring for the patient
  • provide support with daily activities (e.g., eating/diet, personal hygiene, exercise, etc.)
  • manage symptoms of the child’s illness
  • administer medications and help with wound care
  • monitor the child’s overall medical status

The private nurse is also skilled at dealing with complex medical needs, such as:

  • GI tube feeding
  • NG Tubes
  • tracheostomy care
  • ventilator care
  • catheter placement
  • collecting samples for lab testing
  • injections
  • breathing treatments
  • SAT monitoring
  • IV antibiotics

Roles of Home Health

  • administer medication
  • collect samples for testing
  • provide basic personal care (e.g., dressing, bathing, eating, etc.)
  • monitor wounds
The Difference
While there are some similarities in regard to the roles each of these services provides, there are also some differences. Namely, private duty nursing provides more in-depth and medical-based care, whereas home health focuses more on the everyday aspects of living with a disease or recovering from a procedure.

Private nurses are registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical nurses (LPNs) practicing under the supervision of an RN clinical supervisor. They provide long-term, hourly nursing care, and the children that they work with are typically dealing with respiratory or neurological disorders.

In comparison, home health is a service lasting at most 60 days, whereas private nursing typically averages care for 3.5 years, and it can go longer. Additionally, home health visits generally are only 2-3 times per week, while private nursing occurs daily, sometimes hourly, with the duration and times dependent on your child’s needs.
Let’s Simplify It
That was a lot of words to describe these two services, so let’s simplify it.

If your child needs daily/hourly care, needs care for more than 2 months, or has a serious medical condition, private duty nursing is the best fit.

If your child is recovering from an illness or procedure and primarily needs daily assistance with minimal medical care for at most 2 months, home health is the best fit.

Of course, there’s a lot more to consider, but separating it in these two ways is a great first step. And if you’re still not sure what each service entails, PediCare can help explain the benefits private duty nursing offers you and your child.
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