The difference between healthcare and social care

The difference between healthcare and social care

Is there a difference between Healthcare and Social Care?

Health and social care are the same thing, right?  You may be thinking they focus on the same thing in terms of duties: looking after people. However, they are slightly different, and this is important to know when you are thinking about working in care.

Table of contents:

What is Healthcare?

Healthcare focuses on the need to treat, control and sometimes prevent an injury, disease, illness or disability. It focuses on both the care during the treatment and the aftermath of the treatment.

There are a wide range of healthcare settings, which include GP services, hospitals, dental services, and rehabilitation services, for physiotherapy.

What is Social care?

Social care focuses on assisting with activities of daily living for older people, people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities/illnesses and/or mental illness. Support provided to these people can range from helping them with their personal care, where applicable, to supporting social activities.

Social care settings can be split into residential and community care services. Care homes fall into the residential care services. Community care services include home care, Extra Care Housing, and any day care services. Hospices could also be considered a social care setting if they provide respite stays.

It is not just about looking after people when it comes to social care. Is also about what happens behind the scenes to enable people to live their lives. This can include making sure a house is adapted so it is accessible and providing any specialist equipment to enable independence.

Are there any differences regarding values and skills needed?

Despite social care settings and healthcare settings providing different services, the same values are needed.

There are a group of values that are considered important qualities for working in the care sector and these are known as the seven qualities of care.

These are:

  • Communication
  • Compassion and empathy
  • Dutifulness
  • Teamworking
  • Inclusivity and respect
  • Adaptable and resilient
  • Procedural compliance

Find out more about the 7 qualities of care

In terms of skills, two sets of skills needed in health and social care are already mentioned: teamwork and communication. Other skills developed in both settings include record keeping and moving and handling.

In both settings, the level of experience and qualifications needed can vary. Some roles don’t require specific experience or qualifications, compared to others. Nonetheless, healthcare roles can be more specific, when it comes to experience and qualifications, due to the medical knowledge needed.

Despite this, some skills and experiences are transferable between health and social care. For example, people working in both health and social care will gain experience in speaking to people and may both involve completing personal care.

How closely linked are Health and Social Care?

Despite healthcare settings and social care settings being different, they are very closely linked due to the services they provide. In fact, they are mainly talked about together as health and social care.

As previously noted, some skills and experiences are transferable. Therefore, those working in health and social care can easily contribute to one setting or the other.

For example, a nurse who has worked in a healthcare setting can contribute to a social care setting and vice versa. Nurses have commonly used skills, such as providing personal care, and communicating with people, but they also have additional skills, such as giving medication and providing important advice and medical knowledge to others regarding health.

A Care Assistant, Support Worker or Healthcare Assistant (HCA) who has worked in social care could also contribute easily to healthcare, thanks to the knowledge they would have gained.

Whilst you can contribute to either setting, if you have worked in health and social care, some roles may require you to have certain qualifications and experience, particularly in healthcare.

For example, some health care assistant roles in a healthcare setting require health and social care qualifications and experience. Therefore, if you are starting your care career journey without relevant experience or qualifications, check for any specific requirements before you apply. You can read about applying for care jobs without experience or qualifications.

Overall, apart from the types of settings and, to some extent, the services provided being slightly different, there are similarities between health and social care settings. We hope this guide to health and social care has helped you to determine the differences and similarities between the two and we wish you luck with those job applications.

See a wide selection of health and social care jobs available.