Difference between a carer and support worker

A young boy with cerebral palsy plays with his support worker.

Support workers and carers play an important role in helping people with aged care support needs or disability support needs. Together, they help to reduce emotional and physical strain on the person and improve their overall health and wellbeing.

The roles of a support worker and carer, however, differ in some key ways.

Carers, their role and responsibilities

Carers Australia defines a ‘carer’ as a person who provides unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged. An unpaid carer might be a partner, family member, friend or neighbour and the arrangement may be temporary or permanent.

A carer’s role differs greatly depending on the person’s needs. They are usually responsible for the management of medications, and also provide emotional and social support. Caring may also involve help with organising and attending appointments, banking and dealing with emergencies.

Carers don’t necessarily live with the person they are caring for and they aren’t always the main source of care and support.

Support workers

Support workers are professionals who are engaged by people who need support to do tasks they may need assistance with. Support workers are paid, formal supports.

While the specifics of the role depend on the client, independent support workers on Mable may focus on tasks that alleviate physical discomfort and promote social connectedness, independence, emotional wellbeing and general health.

Support workers may provide:

  • Social support
  • Help around the home
  • Work and study assistance
  • Personal care
  • Independent living support
  • Travel support.

Being a support worker can be a highly rewarding yet demanding career. A passion and dedication to maximising the quality of life of those receiving your support is essential. Personal qualities like respect, honesty, flexibility and communication skills give support workers a well-rounded base to connect with clients.

Learn more about what support workers do and how you can become a support worker.


Care and support have different meanings, but the concepts are linked.

To care for someone means making sure they live comfortably by doing things for them they may not be able to do themselves. This can include helping them with their daily tasks such as health care, personal care, eating and drinking and personal safety, to ensure an adequate and appropriate standard of wellbeing.

To support someone means to help them succeed to live a more independent and fulfilling life by providing them with the skills and tools they need to do so. Support is intended to empower people to take more control over things in their lives, both large and small.

To become an independent support worker on Mable, you will need:

* The criminal history check must be completed through the link provided by Mable. This ensures that the check covers the type of work that you will be conducting via the Mable platform.

Read this detailed guide on becoming a support worker on Mable. For more information, explore our frequently asked questions.

Working as an independent support worker on Mable offers many benefits. On Mable, you get to choose the hours you work, choose the clients you work with, choose how much you charge for your services. Importantly, you have the opportunity to create long-term relationships with the clients you connect with through Mable.