What’s the difference between a Support Worker and a Care Assistant ?

Healthcare Assistant, Care Worker, Carer, Care Assistant, Support Worker and so on. Many of these Job titles mean the same thing, they are essentially centred around two key areas of what we do, those areas are Care and Support, and so in a short hand sense, the two Job titles best suited to these two areas are Care Assistant and Support Worker.

But what does all of this mean?

A good place to begin is the difference between care and support and the definition of that.

Care is something a Care assistant usually engages in. It is when a Care Worker is offering a level of support which includes what we call Personal Care. Personal Care is something that is required by people who may be older and physically frail, or they may be living with a Physical Disability which limits what they can do for themselves independently. Personal Care usually though not exclusively involves; washing, toileting, dressing, meal preparation and other daily duties and generally helping and empowering a person to exist as a dignified individual, promoting their independence and liberty. This is what Care is simply speaking, and it takes a special and dedicated Care professional to do it.

Support then, what’s that and how does it differ from the above? Support is engaged in by the Support Worker. Support as it is defined here is usually offered in areas such as Mental Health, Learning Disabilities, Eating Disorders and some associated Challenging Behaviours. Support is defined by scenarios which don’t necessarily involve personal care, but include instead areas such as but not limited to; supervision, encouragement, companionship and appropriate guidance. A Care assistant who designates themselves as a Support Worker is usually someone who perhaps might not be entirely comfortable carrying out personal care and feels that their personal gifts are better geared towards offering social and emotional support. It is key to point out that the delivery of Personal Care isn’t for everyone, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Not carrying out Personal Care does not prohibit someone from making a very serious and positive contribution to a patients life. Many carve out a very succesfull and valuable career in an entirely non personal care based healthcare role.

It is very important to note that these two roles (Care Assistant and Support Worker) while seperate in some ways are by no means completely unrelated to each other. They often dovetail, and activities engaged in by the Care Assistant may have to be engaged in by the Support Worker, and all of the duties shown above for a Support Worker are certainly also part and parcel of what a Care Assistant does. Some people are happy to engage in both roles. It is however useful to be able to understand what people mean when they refer to a Care Assistant or a Support Worker or to Care and Support.

Adult Social Care

Leave a Reply