Caring for Vulnerable Adults: Understanding Social Care - SO678

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
(version 2)
Autumn and Spring 6 30 (15) checkmark-circle


Social care is of central significance in the support of a range of vulnerable adults. As such it is one of the key services of the welfare state, though one that often loses out to higher profile concern with medical care. In this module we trace the development of social care from its origins in nineteenth century philanthropy, through its consolidation as a key service within the post war welfare state, to its current state of flux as it becomes increasingly fragmented and subject to new models of provision. The module looks at the care experiences of people with physical disabilities whether acquired in childhood or as result of accident or illness later in life; with learning difficulties; and mental health problems; as well as frail older people, exploring user perspectives and questions of empowerment. It also addresses those who provide care and support in the form of family carers and paid workers, whether social workers or care assistants, addressing policy debates concerning the role of the state and family in provision. It analyses the key social and policy debates in this field: for example: can we afford the cost of the rising numbers of older people? What role does ageism play in recent scandals about the quality of care provision? How can we support family carers? How do we integrate people with learning disability into wider society? In doing so it raises issues of funding, affordability and the mixed economy of care, as well as addressing fundamental questions about how disability, age and care are experienced and understood.


Contact hours

22 weekly lectures and seminars of 1 hour


Not available 2016/17

Method of assessment

50% coursework (two 2500 word essays) and 50% examination (summer term)

Indicative reading

Glasby J (2007) Understanding Health and Social Care, Policy Press
Means R et al (2003) Community Care: policy and practice 3rd edition, Palgrave
Parrott L (2002) Social Work and Social Care, 2nd edition Routledge
Glasby J and Littlechild R (2004) The Health and Social Care Divide, Policy Press
Adams R Social Work and Empowerment 3rd edition, Palgrave
Adams R (ed) (2007) Foundations of Health and Social Care, Palgrave.
Bytheway B (2002) Understanding Care, Welfare and Community, Routledge
Twigg J (2006) The Body in Health and Social Care. Palgrave
Phillipson, C (2013) Ageing, Polity

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will have developed skills in:

Presentation and debate, (make short presentations to fellow students and staff, communicate ideas and arguments both in written and spoken form)
Utilisation of research and statistical data, including web-based materials. Seek out and use statistical data relevant to social issues. Use IT to conduct on-line searches, communicate by e-mail and access data sources.
Synthesising knowledge across a range of disciplinary fields within the social sciences. Understanding of inter-disciplinary approaches in social policy and the ability to use ideas from other social sciences.
Communicate ideas and arguments to others both in written and spoken form.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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