Support vs Care

There’s a subtle but very important distinction between caring for someone and supporting them.  It is a distinction that can mean the difference between someone being just ok and someone living to their fuller potential.  At HFHC, offering support rather than simply care runs through the very ethos and culture of the company so we think it is important to share why it makes such a difference.


Caring for Someone

Although the most widely used term for looking after someone, care put simply involves helping someone in their daily needs; personal care, administering health care, ensuring they are fed and hydrated, keeping them safe, ensuring they have a standard of wellbeing they deserve.  It is the absolute minimum for what should be acceptable, a standard of service that should be taken for granted when choosing a placement.  Sadly this is not always a reality, as standards of care can fall below what we expect as parents to be the minimum requirement.

An example of simply caring for someone would be “would you like a cup of tea?” to which the reply is “yes.”  The carer then makes and hands the individual a cup of tea.  On the face of it, this looks like good care, however, what part does the individual play in this task?


Supporting Someone

Taking ‘caring for someone’ as the absolute minimum standard, ‘supporting someone’ goes to the next level.  It is about empowering people to take more control over even the smallest things in their lives or even a small part of a small thing; things that you or I would take for granted.  At a fundamental level it’s about seeing every ‘care need’ as an opportunity to help the individual to make choices, develop skills, and be more involved in creating their own outcomes.  This should be a progressive process, the ultimate aim of which is to support the individual to lead a more fulfilled life.

Following the above example, it would be “would you like a cup of tea” to which the reply would be “yes.”  The extra step is then supporting the individual to put the tea bag in the cup, fill the kettle, stir the tea with a spoon and add milk, or as far as their abilities can take them.


Why the Distinction is Important

At this level it is important because without supporting individuals to become empowered there are few chances for them to continuously develop in all aspects of their life.  By supporting them in even the smallest tasks, they make progress every day – it might be two steps forward, one step back, or only happen over a long period of time, but the important thing is they ARE making progress.

In terms of care provision it is important because it is the ‘harder’ path to take for staff.  It involves more patience, more thought, more involvement and more time.  But by becoming more involved in someone’s development it engages carers more, it motivates them and rewards them when they see the individual achieve something new.   It gives better outcomes for both staff and the people they are supporting.


Why it Makes a Real Difference

Better outcomes on a day to day level are good for all involved.  Taking it to the next level of people reaching their fuller potential, this cannot happen under a basic care service.  It is extremely difficult to help people achieve their goals and realise their aspirations if they are passive in the process.  By really listening to what they want, what they aspire to, and then supporting them to get there by breaking it down into manageable steps they can do, they are part of the process and are truly involved in fulfilling their own potential.


Why it Makes a Difference at Transition

As parents we tend to do things for our children as we tend to underestimate their abilities.  Life at home can be too easy with too many get outs. Why make the effort if Mum does it all?  Also as parents, we can tend to dictate to our children as to what should happen rather than what could happen as we see them as an extension to ourselves rather than as individuals.  Isn’t this the way that we treat all our children until those that can, rebel against this and start creating and living their own lives?  And for those that can’t communicate in the same way, they can become trapped and will often find another way to rebel in their deep seated desire for individuality.  This can express itself as challenging or anti-social behaviour.

When they are at school, it is classic that we often hear about two different children; the child at school and the child at home.  Good schooling helps the individual develop their identity and sense of self-worth and assumes that the individual is capable of more.  As parents, at home we tend to slip into care mode.

This world of balance and expectations disappear when they leave school and their world is reduced to the narrow parameters of care at home or in the wrong care provision.  For the individual this is a world of regression.



We believe it is essential to support people, it is simply not enough to just care for them.  As a family we knew that we could not deliver this support ourselves in our own home.  We wanted Laura to be supported to live as fulfilled life as possible.  But even more importantly, we realised that this was what Laura wanted.

We know that if we provide the same approach for those that HFHC support then they have the opportunity to continuously develop life skills and greater independence and also to fulfil more of their potential and lead happier lives which is exactly what they, as individuals in our society, deserve.


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