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Faculty of Health & Social Care

Transforming health and social care practice through education and research


Welcome to The Open University’s Faculty of Health & Social Care. We’ve been developing education and training solutions for individuals and health and social care employers since 1980. With over 30 years’ experience and around 12,000 students a year, we’ve become the UK’s largest and most innovative provider of higher education in health and social care.

How to die: Simon's Choice

Dr Sam Murphy (Faculty of Health and Social Care) and Professor Derek Matravers (Faculty of Arts) are the lead academics on the forthcoming BBC broadcast 'How to die: Simon's Choice'. 

Simon is a successful business man with a loving family and large circle of friends whose world falls apart when he is diagnosed with an aggressive form of motor neurone disease and given two years to live. Within weeks of the diagnosis the disease causes Simon to lose the use of his voice. Faced with the prospect of a rapid physical decline, Simon tells his family that he is considering ending his life at a Swiss suicide clinic.The dramatic and poignant OU/BBC/Minnow Films co-production telling the story of one man facing a heart wrenching decision of whether to end his life at a suicide clinic airs on Wednesday 10th February, 9.00pm on BBC Two.

Full broadcast details, a discussion hub and links to more information on death and dying can be found on OpenLearn

The Lottery of Birth- 22nd February 2016

The Faculty's massive online open course (MOOC) 'The Lottery of Birth' commences on the 22nd February 2016. The course will examine the inequalities of birth, with a particular focus on being rich or poor and being born male or female. The course will also look at the lottery of birth as it relates to becoming a parent, and how individual countries and global organisations are responding to demographic changes and predictions. 

A variety of disciplines such as demography, health studies, sociology, comparative social policy, history, political science and economics are used to create fresh insight and provide a bridge for different ideas to feed into social and political change. Learners will have the opportunity to critically analyse an initiative of their choice from their own country, and review the analysis of a fellow learner. 

Further information, along with registration details, can be found on the FutureLearn website. 

Launch of 'Talking about Sex, Sexuality and Relationships: Guidance and standards for those working with young people with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions'

On December 1st, The Open University Sexuality Alliance launched the interim final 'Talking about Sex, Sexuality and Relationships: Guidance and standards for those working with young people with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions'' at The Open University in London. The guidance and standards were launched by Dame Elizabeth Fradd, DBE. Seventy-five delegates attended this event from around the UK. This included young people with life-limiting and life- threatening conditions, their families, staff and organisational leads from the NHS and other public sector organisations, as well as colleagues from the Royal College of Nursing and lawyers. 

Lizzie Chambers, Development Director for Together for Short Lives, said: “The growing number of young people now living into adulthood with life-limiting conditions means that professionals can no longer ignore their right to sexual expression.  After all it's just a normal part of growing up and being an adult. 
“I hope this new guide will give professionals the confidence to be able to talk to young people about their sexuality and that this will in turn empower young people to have relationships and have a good sex life if that is what they want.”

Tony Coughlan named in the top 50 most influential social media users in higher education

Congratulations to Tony Coughlan who has been named by Jisc as one of the top 50 most influential higher education professionals using social media. Jisc are a registered charity and champion the use of digital technologies in UK education and research.

Tony has developed a social media presence that collates reputable free e-learning, textbooks and journals for the children and young people's (CYP) sector, which includes roles such as child-minding, nurseries, youth clubs, fostering and adoption, but with low-paid workers and volunteers particularly in mind.

Through his blog and Facebook page, Tony acts as digital curator, assessing these resources as an experienced tutor, e-learning author and trustee and director of a children’s charity. The high-quality, free e-learning resources he identifies can be used as an efficient way of educating volunteers for their work with children and families, offering learning opportunities to many who might otherwise be excluded.

The Open University at RCN Congress 21st – 24th June 2015

Colleagues from the Faculty attended the RCN Congress 2015, held this year in Bournemouth. The exhibition hall was buzzing, with many interested in our ground-breaking mentorship offer (see below) and access to funded OU learning for healthcare staff in London and Yorkshire. The OU team included:
Kay Norman (Academic lead of our ground-breaking new mentorship programme)
Claire Chatterton (OU North West and Chair of RCN's History of Nursing Group)
Sandie King (OU London, Academic lead for our new fully funded London CPD programme)
Jon Rowe (Mental Health Nursing Team)
Naomi Watson (Adult Nursing Team)

Former OU student wins 'Life Changing Learning Award'. 

Former mental health nursing student, Chris Taylor, has won the 'Life Changing Learning Award', one of a suite of awards organised by Health Education North West as part of Adult Learners' Week.

Studying the OU’s nursing course meant juggling his support worker role with being a student nurse, studying hard and completing practice learning placements. It was a tough ask – but Chris was motivated by the end goal of being a qualified mental health nurse. Chris was an enthusiastic and committed student who seized the opportunities open to him. He successfully completed his training with a Diploma in Mental Health Nursing and now works in his NHS Trust as a mental health practitioner with older people on an inpatient unit in Tameside.

Chris explains:  'If it wasn’t for the OU I would still be a support worker and though I enjoyed that, without a qualification there could be no career progression. I would never have left my job to go to a brick uni as I was working full time and wouldn’t have been able to afford to give up my salary to be a student. The OU gives you the chance to do both and I now plan to build a long and rewarding career in mental health nursing. My tutors were absolutely excellent, especially my practice tutor Dr. Claire Chatterton.'  

Qualifying as a nurse transformed Chris’ life; through his practice he strives to transform the lives of the patients/ service-users he supports. Chris was presented with his award at a celebratory evening on the 11th June.

Our news archive is available here