Health & Social Care

Health and social care is the treatment of ill health and medical conditions in hospitals, health centers, and in the community. Social care is the care and support of vulnerable people, usually in the community.


The 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 treatments.

This may include the study of public health and public health campaigns such as the effects of poor and lack of. (FayeStoreysBrainCells, 2002)


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.

Law and social policy

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.


Ethics, as applied to the medical and social care fields, is a broad and important field of the study of Health and Social Care.

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 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 is an example of 

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 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.

Further reading

  • Jon Glasby (2003). “The health and social care divide”. Hospital discharge: integrating health and social care. Radcliffe Publishing. pp. 7–11. Margaret Allott & Martin Robb (1998). Understanding health and social care: an introductory reader. SAGE. 
  • Graham Brotherton & Steven Parker (2008). Your Foundation in Health and Social Care: A Guide for Foundation Degree Students. SAGE.
  • Cambridge Training & Development (2000). Advanced Health and Social Care (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.
  • Pamela Minett & David Wayne (2009). First Health and Social Care (1st ed.). Reflect Press Press.

The Health and Social Care sector

The Health and Social Care sector consists of any organisation which provides healthcare support to people, for example hospitals, dentists, and specialist support like physiotherapy, and social care support, for example, nursing homes, foster caring, and nurseries. In short, it includes any organisation or service which helps people live more independent, healthier lives.

Did you know?

  • There are over 350 jobs roles in the Health and Social Care sector?
  • The NHS is Europe’s biggest employer and the fifth biggest employer in the world. Nearly 1.5 million patients interact with the NHS every 24 hours
  • There are over 100,000 vacancies at any time in the sector

What is it like to work for the Health and Social Care sector?

The answer depends on what job you do and where you work. Watch to the video below to hear from Ellie-May who went on one of our courses and now works as a Medical Lab Assistant.

The Health and Social Care sector contains pretty much any role you can think of, and loads of fun ones that you’ve probably never thought of, like being a Children’s Play Care Assistant! The sector also values flexibilty. When you’re in, you can move around between different sectors so you’re not locked in to a particular job type. That makes it ideal for anyone who isn’t quite sure what they want to do. Of course, if you’re aiming for a particular job or career path, you can also achieve that.