Care and Support - What’s The Difference? - Maple Services
Care and Support – What’s The Difference?

Care and Support – What’s The Difference?

The terminology surrounding provision of care and support to people living with disabilities can be confusing, but there are often important differences to consider that can be useful and informative. While in some cases, there may be significant overlap in the usage and meaning of terms, using the proper language when discussing the people’s lived experience with disabilities helps to improve inclusivity 

The terms care and support are often used interchangeably, but there is a very important, yet subtle difference between providing care for someone and providing support to them. Care reflects providing services to someone to enable a minimal level of accessibility, whereas support is about empowering them to be more independent and live a fuller life with integrated strategies in place.

How these terms are used can have a significant impact on the quality of life of and care and support received for you or your loved one. Ensuring that the services you may use  will meet your or your loved one’s needs is a natural step in determining what organisations to partner with. 

What’s The Difference Between Care and Support?

What is a carer role?

Care is the most widely used term for looking after someone. Put simply, it refers to helping someone with their daily needs and ensuring they have the minimum standard of well-being they desire. This can include personal care, ensuring they are nourished and hydrated, keeping them safe, and taking medications. Caring for someone means doing the things for them that they cannot do, and making sure they can live comfortably. 

Care vs support 

Alternatively, by supporting someone, you enable them to live their lives more independently, and provide the tools and the skills they need to do so to live a more fulfilling life. This can include teaching a person new skills or providing them equipment or technology that enable them to complete daily tasks and participate fully in the community. Importantly, it is about realising that every need is an opportunity to help an individual make choices, develop skills, and be more involved in achieving their desired outcomes. Supporting someone is a progressive process that can be continuously built upon and developed.

Why is The Difference Between Care and Support Important?

When we understand the difference between care and support, we acknowledge the difference between an individual who just lives with their disability and someone who grows, thrives, and actively participates in the improvement of their life. By empowering someone to complete tasks in their own way, we recognise a person-centred approach for them to develop in all aspects of their life.

The difference between care and support worker refers to supporting people in even the smallest tasks instead of doing it for them, their disability is refocused on accessibility and optimal participation. This process may take time and patience and require them to take two steps forward only to take one step back, but ultimately they are making progress and this can be documented and celebrated over time. 

Types of Care & Support

The concepts of both Care and support are essential in promoting well-being and autonomy. However, they operate in different ways and it’s important to understand the distinction.

Types of care:

  • Personal care – personal care involves assisting someone in their daily activities. This can include bathing, dressing and grooming as well as making a cup of tea or some dinner. For instance, a caregiver may help someone with limited mobility by assisting them with tasks that they can’t perform independently.
  • Medical care – medical care can include when a nurse takes care of a patient in a hospital by administering medication, monitoring vital signs, and tending to their physical needs. Disabilities often require ongoing medical attention. For instance, people living with cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis may need specialised medical care, including physical therapy, medication management, and regular check ups.

Types of Support:

  • Assisted daily living support – When someone lives with a disability or is recovering from an injury, they may need support with their daily living activities. When we consider support in this context it can involve creating more accessible living spaces, such as installing a wet room or walk-in shower, and adapting kitchen cabinets for easy access. It can also refer to learning new methods of cooking, dressing, or grooming safely, successfully and independently. The assistance of a dedicated support worker can play a pivotal role in making these improvements and providing the necessary guidance.
  • Educational and vocational support – This type of support is vital for encouraging people living with disabilities to lead independent lives. Aided education programs, vocational training, and assistance with job placement can help them to acquire skills and secure employment. For example, someone who has a visual impairment might benefit from orientation and mobility training to navigate their surroundings confidently.
  • Assistive technology – Support can also come in the form of technology. For someone living with a disability, a wheelchair, communication device, or screen reader can be life-changing, allowing them to access education, work, and social interactions effectively. 
  • Community inclusion – Support can extend to fostering a sense of inclusion and belonging within the community. This may involve providing accessible public spaces, transportation, and social opportunities. For instance, a support worker accompanying someone with a disability via public transport or local businesses incorporating accessibility ramps on their buildings.

How To Choose The Right Support 

When you conduct research about support and care services for your loved one, be sure to remain aware of these fundamental differences and how different organisations use language. Choosing an accountable company to work with can be instrumental to the happiness of you or your loved one. If an individual only tacitly participates in the process of their well-being, they may find it difficult to achieve their goals and realise their aspirations, especially without the assistance of NDIS plan management providers.

At Maple Community Services, we listen intently to what our clients and their support system need and aspire to, and then support them to reach their goals. By breaking down a person’s needs into manageable steps, they become the cornerstone of the support process and important  in reaching their full potential.

What is the Difference Between a Care and Support Worker?

A carer and support worker could be used in the same context, or they could be talking about the different roles. It’s important to understand what someone means when they refer to a carer or support worker.

A caregiver is more likely to provide service at times when a client is in need of palliative care or end-of-life care when a patient’s condition becomes terminal. They may be in need of care services that make them comfortable and help them to function. A support worker provides the support needed for an individual to live a fulfilling life. 

What are Support Needs?

An individual’s support needs can vary greatly from person to person, and some may require specialised assistance such as NDIS group homes or disability respite accommodation. This is why it is integral to create a personalised plan, to decipher the hopes and aspirations of each client, and create an achievable path forward to reach them.

You can read more here about our Core Supports and the different aspects our team can help you with.