Unit 7 Social Policy

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The aim of this unit is to enable learners to investigate the origins of social policies and their impact on health and social care services.

Unit abstract

This unit covers the many factors that influence social policy, including historical, conceptual, political, regional, national and other agents of social change. Learners will explore their effect on social policy. It will be possible to encompass a variety of health and social care sectors in the delivery of this unit. Analysis of social policy will enable learners to evaluate sufficiency and deficiency in provision. Tracing developments from 1945 to the present, learners will compare and contrast major competing perspectives and examine key contemporary issues for policy makers, welfare recipients, providers and stakeholders.

Learning outcomes

1 Understand the significant historical and contemporary landmarks in social welfare provision

  • Social policy: definition of; distinguishing social policy from organisational policy
  • World War II and its effects on provision and attitudes to welfare: Beveridge and Bevan and the inception of the welfare state; the range of social policy eg income maintenance,employment and benefits, health, housing, social services, education
  • Post-war: ‘consensus’ and differences eg the influence of Butler, Gaitskell; ending of consensus; The New Right and Thatcherism; ‘New Labour’ and social inclusion; devolution; personalised services.

2 Understand the origins of social policies

  • Ideology: universalism; individual liberty/laissez-faire; ideological issues, eg poverty, eligibility, means testing and targeting, family and community values
  • The roles of institutions: Parliament; the European Union; local government; devolved government; government agencies; other relevant roles eg political parties, committees, enquiries
  • Influences on policy: movements and pressure groups; campaigns; the media; users of services; administrators.

3 Understand the impact of social policies on users of health and social care services

  • How impact can be measured: methods eg service user feedback, research, statistics, organisational policy responses, practice experience; difficulties in measuring impact
  • Broader strategies: behind individual and organisational roles; how policy is implemented; how and why ‘problems’ are defined in certain ways
  • The impact of policy on specific groups: positive and negative impacts on eg older people, children, people with disabilities, youth offenders; successful policy implementation (barriers to, characteristics of).

4 Be able to carry out an investigation into recent developments in health and social care policy

  • National models and ‘the living laboratory’: England; Northern Ireland; Scotland; Wales
  • Current initiatives: as relevant to learner and home country eg gender, ethnic issues, poverty and social security, health and health services, community care, disability, crime and criminal justice.


  • Marcus, N.J., Rio, R., Schultz, E.P., Xia, X. & Schultz, H.D. 2014, "Carotid body denervation improves autonomic and cardiac function and attenuates disordered breathing in congestive heart failure", The Journal of Physiology, vol. 592, no. 2, pp. 391-408.
  • McAuley, J. 2012, "Volunteering to save lives", The practising midwife, vol. 15, no. 11, pp. 29

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