Unit 19 Contemporary Issues in HSC

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The aim of this unit is to enable learners to research how contemporary issues of concern develop and how public perspectives subsequently influence the development of health and social care services.

Unit abstract

This unit will develop learners’ understanding of factors that can influence the public debate on matters relating to health and social care. Learners will analyse the methods used to bring information to the public arena for debate, and the validity and reliability of that information. Class debate and discussion may be used to analyse the factors that affect the development of public opinion. Learners will explore how a range of health and social care issues are presented in the media and then monitor the development of a particular issue over time. Learners will develop a portfolio of media coverage on the specific issue of interest, and analyse the interrelationships between public opinion of the issue and the development of related social policy.

Learning outcomes

1 Understand how information relating to health and social care gives rise to issues of concern to the public

  • Health and social care information: recurrent themes eg finance, resourcing, political context, collaborative care, standards, disability, child abuse enquiries
  • Dissemination of information: through the media; through informative leaflets; use of visual images; developing a portfolio of media coverage
  • Perspectives in the presentation of information: moral panic; discursive perspectives on the media
  • Influences on attitudes and behaviour: format of presentation; style of presentation; content
  • People: individuals; groups; communities; professionals; pressure groups; lobbyists; marketeers, policy formers; others as appropriate
  • Developments in health and social care: legislation; codes of practice; services; Professionalism.

2 Understand how issues of public concern related to health and social care are presented in the media

  • The role of the media: responding to and shaping public opinion eg stereotyping, moral panics, political bias
  • Sources of information: as relevant eg newspapers (local and national), magazines, websites, television channels (both commercial and public)
  • Reliability of sources of information: the question of ownership; political and religious agendas; pressure groups; government sources; conflicting views of current issues eg how the ideological or political perspectives of different media sources impact on the way news is presented or ‘spun’
  • The impact of the internet: on news media, politics and professional practice eg news as a  commodity, the dominance of a small number of primary news sources, lack of critical scrutiny, ‘dumbing down’ of news.

3 Be able to carry out research into different perspectives on a specific issue relating to health and social care

  • Specialist sources of current information: as relevant eg websites, news media and journals
  • Electronic sources for current information: e-journals; government websites; media websites; user group and pressure group websites
  • Key issues: outline issues eg public and private service providers, professionalism and bureaucracy, users of services and consumers, regulation and the market
  • Influence of cultural context: awareness of eg religious and moral beliefs, cultural perspectives on individual and communal rights, academic freedom
  • Presentation and emphasis of media and policy makers: ‘spin’ and marketing of issues.

4 Understand the likely influence contemporary perspectives on health and social care issues will have on the development of services

  • Interrogate information collected: critically evaluate eg what is the evidence, validity, reliability, key arguments; summarise; draw conclusions
  • Impact on services: possible outcomes eg privatisation, reduction of resources, changing threshold criteria, discrimination
  • Different interpretations of information: subjectivity eg selective use of data, selective use of professional and academic opinion, political and ideological bias in interpretation; genuine disagreement over the correct interpretation of information.


  • Power, A. (2010). Changing the culture of care. Dementia beyond drugs .
  • Reisman, M., Meyer, R.C., Ambrose Video Publishing & Centre Communications 2010, The Respiratory system, Ambrose Video Pub, New York.
  • Sathananthan, A.H. 2011, "Neural Stem Cells in Neurospheres, Embryoid Bodies, and Central Nervous System of Human Embryos", Microscopy and Microanalysis,vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 520-527.

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