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Introduction to Social Care: Understanding Informal Care


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Learn about the importance of informal carers in the social care sector, including their role, rewards, challenges, and support.

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Develop your understanding of unpaid informal carers and their responsibilities

What is informal care in social care, and what’s the role of informal carers?

In this four-week course from The Open University, you’ll be introduced to the work of those who provide unpaid care to friends and family members in need.

You will learn what informal care is, how it is distinct from other forms of care, what essential day-to-day activities informal carers perform, and the issues of dependence, independence, and interdependence.

You’ll then investigate the societal patterns of caring across the UK to understand the diversity of the people who take on caring responsibilities and how these responsibilities shape their lives. You’ll reflect on the impact of caring on the carers’ wellbeing, motivations, challenges, and rewards.

Discover what support is available for informal carers

You’ll discover what formal support and networks are available for informal carers, how eligibility is determined, how they can be accessed, and why so many people don’t receive this help. You’ll also consider the importance of declaring a caring status and why it is that some carers remain ‘hidden’.

Created by experts in social care at The Open University

You’ll learn from experts at The Open University who have delivered learning for the health and social care sector, working with employers, including the NHS, social services, and the voluntary sector for over 30 years.

What topics will you cover?

  • What is informal care, and why does it
  • The essential day-to-day activities supported by informal carers
  • The diversity of the people who take on caring responsibilities and how these responsibilities shape their lives
  • The importance of declaring caring status and why some carers remain ‘hidden’
  • What support is available to informal carers, and how is eligibility determined

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interested in learning about social care. You don’t need any prior knowledge of social care to join. It will benefit:

  • Anyone new to social care or those with a basic understanding who want to learn more
  • Those considering working in social care who want to know more
  • Social care service users, informal, unpaid carers, or those who want to find out how to support others in our care system
Introduction to Social Care: Understanding Informal Care
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