The Difference Between a Care Worker & a Support Worker

23 January 2023
The terms care and support are often used interchangeably, but there are differences. Dimensions explains the differences between a care worker and a support worker.
The Difference Between a Care Worker & a Support Worker

The terminology surrounding care and support are often used interchangeably, however, there are marked differences between providing care for someone and providing support for them. 

Care reflects providing a service to someone to enable a minimal level of accessibility, whereas supporting someone is about empowering them to live more independently and enabling individuals to have a greater choice and control in their lives. 

If you’re considering a career in support work but aren’t sure how this differs from care work, we’ve put together this page to identify the differences between a care worker and a support worker and also explore some similarities. We hope this will help you when exploring the reasons to consider a career in support work. 

What’s the Difference Between Care & Support?

Care is a term most used for looking after someone, helping them with their daily needs and ensuring their wellbeing. Caring for someone means doing things for them that they can’t do themselves. 

Alternatively, supporting someone means that you enable them to live their lives more independently and provide them with the opportunities, tools, and skills they need to live a fulfilling life. It is about helping an individual to make choices, expand their horizons and gain control over their life. Supporting someone is, in short, incredibly rewarding.

What is a Carer?

A paid carer is most likely to be someone who provides support for elderly individuals, or provides end of life care. They often work in nursing or care homes, visit people in their own homes (this is usually called domiciliary care) or provide live-in care in a person’s home.  

An unpaid carer is most likely to be a family member such as a parent, partner, or sibling. Unpaid carers don’t clock off. They may live in the same household as the person they are caring for, so there are no set hours of work. According to the last census, 6.5m people in the UK are family carers. 

What is a Support Worker?

A support worker is a formal, paid support role that very often also involves care. Support workers undertake training to achieve their care certificate and additional training to meet the needs of the individual they are to support. The day-to-day role of a support worker varies depending on the needs of the person, this provides support workers with opportunities to learn new skills. At Dimensions, our colleagues support people with learning disabilities and autism to make choices and so achieve control over their life. We aim for every person we support to live a fulfilling life in their local community. 

Why is Differentiating Care & Support Work Important? 

It’s important to be aware of the difference between care and support because the type of care or support that is provided to the individual is different. When caring for someone, you’re often doing things for them to maintain their wellbeing. When supporting someone, you are doing things with them, assisting them to live more independently, to gain choice and control over their life and to achieve their goals. At Dimensions, we take a person-centred, active support approach, that helps people to develop in all aspects of their life. 

Similarities Between Care & Support Work

Despite the differences, there are some similarities between care and support work and this includes this type of work to be carried out as well as what kind of person it takes to be a carer or support worker. 

The Work 

There are many tasks that can overlap with care and support work, including: 

  • Helping people with their personal care 
  • Noticing, understanding and reporting any changes in health or behaviour 
  • listening to the person, however they choose to communicate, without preconceived ideas of what is ‘right.’
  • Providing emotional and social support 
  • Helping with household and financial tasks

What it Takes

At Dimensions, you don’t need qualifications or experience to join us, we provide all mandatory training, instead we recruit colleagues based on our values, which are ambition, courage, integrity, partnership, and respect. 

In our experience, great support workers are also: 

  • Caring and understanding 
  • Friendly
  • Patient 
  • A good listener 
  • Adaptable 
  • Aware of basic health and hygiene rules 
  • Willing to help people unable to care for themselves 
  • Willing to help people to be independent 

Become a Support Worker at Dimensions

If you believe you have what it takes to become a support worker, take our quiz to find out if it’s right for you. Then, you can apply for a support worker career at Dimensions. You can search for the role you want by searching for a particular keyword, postcode, or type of role. Then, click apply, fill in your details and upload your CV! We will be in touch with you.