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The Open University

Introduction to Social Care: Working in Social Care

The Open University via FutureLearn


Explore the skills, challenges and benefits involved in a career in social care

What’s it like to work in social care and what makes a good social care worker?

If you’re considering a career in social care, this four-week course from The Open University will help you understand what it’s like to be a paid social care worker.

Grow your knowledge through first-hand accounts of social care workers

Through engaging real-world examples, you’ll learn what social care workers do, the settings they work in, and the people they support, including, but not limited to, individuals with disabilities and long-term conditions, children and young people, and those in later life. You’ll learn about the principles that guide their practice, the skills required, and some of the issues they face.

Develop essential communication and empathy skills to become a great social care worker

You’ll explore person-centred practice and develop an understanding of the core communication skills for social care work, including active listening and empathy. You’ll look at the nature of risk in social care contexts and discover how to keep service users safe, including how to raise concerns. You’ll also learn about how social care workers can work safely, including the importance of maintaining professional boundaries.

Learn from experts in social care at The Open University

By the end of this course, you will have a better idea of what it takes to work in the social care sector, including the essential skills and values, the principles underpinning safe practice, career pathways and training and development opportunities to support your next steps.

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.

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


  • Context and overview of the social care workforce
    • Welcome to the course!
    • What social care workers do
    • Skills, knowledge and values
    • Challenges in the social care worker’s role
    • Week 1 review
  • Skills and values: communicating
    • Welcome to Week 2
    • Communication in social care work
    • Laying the foundations
    • Evaluating a second conversation
    • Communicating with empathy
    • Week 2 review
  • Skills and values: practising safely
    • Welcome to Week 3
    • The nature of risk in social care
    • Abuse and safeguarding
    • Keeping safe as a care worker
    • Week 3 review
  • A career in social care
    • Welcome to Week 4
    • Identifying your strengths
    • Exploring your next steps
    • Your development plan
    • Week 4 review

Taught by

Fran Wiles


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