Health and Social Care
In the UK, Health and Social Care is a term that relates to integrated services that are available from health and social care providers. It can also mean a range of vocational and academic courses which can be taken at various academic and vocational levels from GNVQ, A-Level, S/NVQ, to degrees.
As a subject discipline, Health and Social Care (H&SC) combines elements of sociology, biology, nutrition, law, and ethics. Typically, students of Health and Social Care will have a work placement alongside their academic studies; such a placement may take place in a nursery, residential home, hospital, or other caring establishment. Others may take a health and social care course as a route to further qualifications hoping that it will lead to employment within the sector.
Depending on their qualification, students may start off as care assistants and develop care pathways to become doctors, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists, counsellors, psychotherapists, Paramedics or a range of other related occupations.
The subject content of H&SC is vast, and will vary depending upon the level at which it is being studied, and the individual qualification. Most students of H&SC will cover areas such as:
The biological aspect of H&SC is vital: with many careers it will form the most important area of their knowledge. Students need to be aware of how people grow and develop physically, and they may also be required to study a range of illnesses and treatments.
Nutrition may form an integral part of some H&SC courses, especially in situations where carers will be primarily responsible for creating and implementing diets for care service users. This area of study will usually also include specialist diets for diabetics, Muslims, vegetarians, lactose-intolerant and other unusual diets.
Students require a good grounding in the legal aspects of what is required of care practitioners, and will need to have up-to-date knowledge of developments in social policy, as well as knowledge of the various laws regarding rights, discrimination, abuse, welfare, and so on.
In the workplace, professional caregivers need to be able to support individuals who feel that they have been or are being treated unfairly, or who do not have access to appropriate care services for some reason. Questions of confidentiality, privacy, risk taking and generally the exercise of personal choice are all ethical dilemmas encountered and processed on a daily basis in the context of social care.
Ethics is also the process that health services follow in order to explore, justify and effect change - for instance if a new procedure, drug or surgical technique is being developed it must at some point be used with patients. The examination of potential positive and negative effects or outcomes, and the provision of appropriate, accessible information about these to the patient to enable informed consent, is an example of applied ethics.
Social and educational activities
Ideally, care workers need to make care environments not merely "tolerable", but enjoyable and fulfilling for the clients; this might involve carrying out social and educational activities with those in care. Students of H&SC will need to learn about how to run games, activities, reading groups, excursions and so on, so that the people receiving care get the most out of it as they possibly can.
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