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Health & Social Care

Helping Hands

Why Study Health & Social Care

Health and Social Care is an interesting and diverse subject that encourages students to develop their communication and observational skills, both inside and outside of the classroom. Short placements are an essential feature of the course, as they allow students to experience the reality of health and social care and early years settings.

Students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and understanding of key issues within these settings, as well as discuss their own experiences, through the coursework element of the course. They are encouraged to keep up-to-date with current issues in the Health and Social Care sector, which leads to stimulating class discussions and debates.

The course draws together students' ability to work both independently and with others. The skills explored throughout the course help in the development of higher order thinking, creative thinking and problem-solving. Furthermore, aptitudes and values are developed alongside the essential knowledge and understanding relevant to degrees in health professions, social work, social sciences and early years.

AS Health and Social Care

Unit AS 1: Promoting Quality Care (25% of AS)

Students will undertake two placements on which two units of coursework are based. The first unit of coursework focuses on the promotion of quality care in a health or social care, or early years setting. Issues covered within this unit include the promotion of values of care, legislation, health and safety and policies. Students will investigate and observe these areas whilst on placement, and write up their reports based on various tasks. Students will also research incidences of poor practice in the Health and Social Care field and the impact on service users and beyond.

Unit AS 2: Communication in Health, Social Care and Early Years Settings (25% of AS)

The second unit of coursework explores the importance of communication in health and social care and early years settings. The focus is on how staff communicate with service users, health professionals and families through various methods of communication, such as verbal, non-verbal or written, and the purpose of such communication. The unit also explores barriers to communication, for example, a learning disability, and how these barriers can be overcome. Whilst on placement, students will observe how communication is effectively used within the setting, and critically evaluate their own communication skills through a group or one-to-one interaction.

Unit AS 3: Health and Well-Being (50% of AS)

The third unit of the AS course is an exam based unit in which students will learn about key concepts of health and wellbeing, and how various factors impact the health of individuals. Some of the factors explored include socio-economic, behavioural and environmental factors. Students will also learn about the physical, intellectual, social and emotional needs of service users, and how these vary. Health promotion campaigns in Northern Ireland are researched and evaluated, and students will also explore the structure and roles of various organisations in promoting health to global and local populations. Finally, students will learn about the impacts of discrimination and anti-discriminatory practice relevant to gender, race, cognitive ability, mental health and other factors, within health, social care and early years settings.

A2 Health and Social Care

Unit A2 3: Providing Services (30% of A level)

This unit is a compulsory written examination, based on pre-release material provided by CCEA eight weeks prior to the exam. The material provided will focus on one service user group, including: children and families, older people, people with physical disabilities or illnesses, people with learning disabilities and people with mental illnesses. Throughout this unit students develop knowledge and understanding of service provision in the health, social care and early years sectors by learning about how such services have developed and how they structured, regulated and funded. Students will also investigate the role of practitioners and how they work in partnership to meet the needs of service users.

Unit A2 4: Health Promotion (15% of A level)

In this unit, students develop an understanding of local health campaigns. Students will discuss how three current health improvement priorities in Northern Ireland are addressed, and investigate a current health promotion campaign run by the Public Health Agency. They will plan, implement and evaluate a small-scale health promotion activity either individually or in a small group. This unit is internally assessed by the class teacher.

Unit A2 5: Supporting the Family (15% of A level)

In this unit, students will focus on the changing and evolving family structures in today's society, and how they have changed since the end of WW2. Such structures include extended families, lone-parent families and same-sex parent families. Students will look at how families support one another as well as investigate which health and social care services are available to support individuals and their families. This may include meeting general health needs, dealing with family crises such as bereavement, and meeting specific individual needs such as mental health issues or age-related conditions. Students will also explore family issues, their effects and how they are dealt with by health and social care services. Such issues may include children with behavioural problems, domestic violence, poverty, racism and child abuse.


Miss N Doran BSc PGCE

As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

- Audrey Hepburn

Career Options

The skills you will learn and utilise while studying Health and Social Care are transferable to many career paths: time management, meeting deadlines, critical thinking, communication skills and independent research are important in all areas of study or work. 

Having an A level in the subject will be advantageous for higher education degrees or courses, and occupations in the health and social care sector. 

These may include nursing, midwifery, medicine, social work, psychology, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, early years teaching, mental health support or counselling, and geriatric care.

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