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What is non-medical home care?

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Put simply, non-medical home care is providing personal care for those in need, but without providing medical or healthcare treatment (for example, prescribing medicine, treating injuries, or physical therapy).
It’s an alternative for older people to have the care that they need without having to go into a nursing home.

Who provides non-medical home care?

Non-medical home care is provided by a range of different people, from family to volunteers, to specialised non-medical home care staff.

This kind of care can be provided in a variety of settings – at the person’s home, day-care centres, or assisted living facilities.

What kind of qualifications do I need?

Usually, people working in non-medical home care will receive some on-the-job training but won’t necessarily have a specific qualification. Some jobs will help you to train towards certain qualifications, such as an NVQ in the UK.

You might see job adverts for:

How do these jobs differ from normal care jobs?

Non-medical home care differs from the kind of care work provided by nurses and registered health professionals, who deal with the medical needs of clients. This usually takes place in a clinical setting although some settings can be mixed, providing both non-medical home care and nursing or medical care.

Working in non-medical home care can be both rewarding and challenging.

This article will address the types of qualities you need for this type of work, as well as some of the challenges that you could face.

Later in the post, I will explain my personal experience of working in both types of setting.

What non-medical home care involves

Non-medical home care can involve all sorts of different tasks, depending on the needs of the person that you’re caring for. These can include.

  • Cooking, cleaning, housekeeping and laundry
  • Driving
  • Helping with physical needs like toileting and eating 
  • Companionship
  • Washing
  • Reminding people to take their medication
  • Shopping and other errands
  • Social activities and hobbies

Many older people do not want to go into nursing homes, and non-medical home care can help them to live their lives as normally as possible through help with everyday tasks.

Can anyone work in non-medical home care?

Care work in a non-medical professional has a reputation for being the kind of job that anyone can do. But ask any care worker, and it’s clear that this is a myth.

Working in non-medical home care is certainly not an easy job but can bring you great job satisfaction. You learn about yourself and others, and you help clients to live longer and happier lives.

You need to be a special kind of person.

You may not have a qualification in care, but if you are a caring and compassionate person who wants to help older adults age well and live fulfilling lives, non-medical home care could be for you.

The most important thing for working in non-medicalised care is having the right personal qualities.

Personal qualities needed for working in non-medical home care

  • Flexibility and patience

This kind of work is focused on your client. And that means being both flexible and patient.

Sometimes your clients may want to make their own cup of tea and it takes them 45 minutes. You might think it would be much quicker to do it yourself and then you can complete other tasks.

Part of being a great care worker is allowing older people to make their own choices and live their own lives, as long as they are not at risk.

  • Compassion

This is not a job to do if you don’t genuinely care about helping and understanding others.

You have to truly want to help your service users get as much out of their lives as possible.

And this includes being understanding of their wants and needs, as well as the restrictions they may be facing.

Sometimes service users with dementia may become angry, and you will need to react with caring and compassion.

  • Dedication and motivation

As I mentioned, this is a challenging job. But if you have the motivation to give your client’s the highest quality of life you can, you can provide fulfilment to older people who wish to live their lives to the fullest.

Sometimes this involves doing things that are difficult or unpleasant, but if you have the drive to help others, you can be a fantastic care worker.

  • Friendliness

One of the greatest things you can contribute to your clients is companionship.

Often, as people get older, their social contact reduces. People’s friends may become unwell or die, and older people can have busy families who they have reduced contact with.

A friendly face and kind words, even when clients are upset or angry, will help them to feel cared for and less isolated.

The difficulties of working in non-medical home care

Although this can be a gratifying job, it is also a difficult job.

Some people with certain types of dementia or Alzheimer’s can become very angry or even violent.

You are at risk of injury not only from the clients themselves, but because it can be a very physically demanding job.

The tough days…

As a support worker, I’ve come home from care shifts with an aching back from helping service users in and out of vehicles, and on and off the toilet.

I’ve also been hit at by distressed clients.

Sometimes you don’t have the same physical equipment (such as hoists) in non-medical home care settings that you would in a nursing home, which can increase your risk of injury or aches and pains.

Reducing the risks…

If you decide to work in non-medical home care, you should make sure that you have done up-to-date risk training (to help you if a service user becomes violent) and manual handling training that will reduce your likelihood of injury.

Check with your employer what type of training that they offer.

Other challenges with non-medical home care

Another issue with non-medical home care jobs is that they can often come hand-in-hand with low wages which do not match the demands of the job.

Support and care workers often get minimum wage for these types of job, coupled with unsociable schedules.

My experience in different kinds of care jobs

Before qualifying in mental health care, I worked in several care jobs for older adults – one in a nursing home and one in a non-medical care home.

Working in a medical nursing home…

I worked as a bank healthcare assistant in a medicalised nursing home, as well as worked in non-medical care as a support worker in a home for people with care needs.

In the nursing home, I rushed around all day attending to the needs of the residents, with little time to get to know the individuals. I helped people with toileting, feeding, and attending to their physical needs.

But I had little time to get to know the person behind the chart. I certainly fulfilled a needed role, but I wondered how much I was really contributing to the person’s life in terms of their non-physical wants and needs.

Working in non-medical home care

When I worked in a non-medical care home, I also helped them with feeding, toileting, and their physical needs. I drove my clients out into the countryside, watched their favourite TV shows with them, and chatted with them over dinner.

I was a friend to them.

Even my clients who couldn’t speak were able to enjoy something we all need as humans – companionship.

That’s not to say they weren’t challenges along the way when I worked in a non-medical setting. Some of my clients had challenging behaviour and depending on who else is on the shift with you, this can be hard to manage.

However, working in a non-medical home care setting was an experience that I treasured, because I felt like I was giving something back.


Work in a non-medical care home is a job that can bring you great rewards.

But it also comes with a lot of responsibility and challenges.

Think carefully about whether you have the qualities it takes to do the job, and whether you feel that you would be able to cope with the difficulties it brings.

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