Skip to content The Open University

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.

OU Ireland student wins RCN Student Nurse of the Year Award 

We are absolutely delighted to announce that our Nursing student, David Ferran, has won the Student Nurse of the Year Award at The Royal College of Nursing's Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Awards! 

David is an Open University nursing student in Stage 3 of his honours degree course specialising in Adult Nursing. He is based in the Dermatology Outpatients Department of the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, where he has worked as a Health Care Assistant for five years. He is an exceptional role model for his fellow students both clinically and academically and is developing the qualities of an excellent nurse. These awards provide the opportunity to highlight excellence within nursing and celebrate the contribution that nurses and health care assistants make to the health and well-being of the people of Northern Ireland. Many congratulations David!

Watch our short film about David's journey into nursing, and our work-based approach to developing nurses.


The Big C & Me

Professor Jan Draper and Dr Mathijs Lucassen are the lead academics on the BBC series 'The Big C & Me'. 

There are two and a half million of us, and the number is growing by nearly a thousand a day: that is how many people in Britain are living with cancer. But a cancer diagnosis is no longer the death sentence it once was. Now, for the first time, half can expect to live beyond their cancer.

The Big C & Me takes us through the doors of the consulting room at St James's Hospital in Leeds, where, for the first time, we witness that raw moment of diagnosis when life changes; and at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, we drop into the lives of patients undergoing chemotherapy. These unguarded encounters between patients, all at different stages of their cancer journey, reveal that the pressures and preoccupations of daily life never stop - even as life and death are ever present.

Filmed across a year, the stories of our contributors and their families play-out in their own time frames. Some are seen from diagnosis all the way through to the all-clear; others pick up once the treatment has started. In each story we witness the often funny and sometimes heart-breaking conversations that become a part of daily life and share in the ups and downs, fear and optimism that accompany life with cancer.

Full broadcast details, a discussion hub and links to a free booklet can be found on OpenLearn

Old School With The Hairy Bikers

Andy Rixon (Faculty of Health and Social Care), Stephen Harrison (Faculty of Education and Language Studies) and Dr Jonathan Hughes (Centre for Inclusion and Collaborative Partnerships) are the lead academics on the BBC2 series 'Old School With The Hairy Bikers'.

The Hairy Bikers, Dave Myers and Si King, have a big new challenge ahead of them. At a struggling school in Oxford, they are taking two groups in society often marginalised, at odds and with a range of different challenges – pensioners and teenage pupils – and pairing them up for a term to see if 12 unlikely couples spending time together as equals can transform their difficult lives. The scheme, inspired by projects in the US and Japan, aims to tackle loneliness and promote understanding between the generations.

Full broadcast details, a discussion hub and links to more information on intergenerational practice, misconceptions about age and mentoring/volunteering can be found on OpenLearn

Open University co-production wins Learning on Screen Award 

Dementiaville (Episode 2) has won the General Education Broadcast Award at the Learning Screen Awards 2016! The episode that won was part of a three part series shown on Channel 4 last summer. This particular programme focused on the pioneering work of David Sheard, of Dementia Care Matters, who worked with three families to try and help them reconnect with their family member who had dementia. The judges praised the film for its sensitivity in tackling such a difficult subject. On accepting the award, Carol Komaromy praised the work of David Sheard and then paid tribute to the families who participated in making the film. 

For more information about Dementiaville and the issues that arise in dementia care, please visit the OpenLearn website.  



'The Care Act: One Year On' - Mary Larkin a member of the expert panel

The Care Act 2014 significantly improved the rights of unpaid carers, consolidating previous legislation and enhancing rights to assessment and support. Implementing these new rights has been a focus of work for local authorities, support providers, NHS services and others in the year since the Act came into force on 1 April 2015, in the context of significant financial constraint. 

The Care Act marks its first anniversary on the 1st April 2016. City University London Professor and former care minister Rt Hon Paul Burstow is chairing a new review of the Care Act in collaboration with the Carers Trust to look at what difference the act has made to unpaid carers one year on. We are delighted that Dr Mary Larkin is a member of this expert panel. 

The Commission received written evidence from carers, service users, practitioners and other stakeholders between 1 February and 18 March. Throughout April key individuals and/or groups have been invited to give oral evidence to an expert panel (these include representatives from local authorities. Healthwatch, ADASS, Carers UK, Dementia UK, NHS England, Department of Health, CQC, Macmillan and Mind). A final report for presentation to Parliament will be completed by July 2016. Rt Hon Paul Burstow talks more about the expert panel during an interview on the Radio 4 programme 'You and Yours'. 

World Social Work Day 2016 - HSC has top billing in Community Care online

To mark World Social Work Day (15 March 2016), we invited our students to tell us about the people who had inspired them to become social workers, and we are delighted that Social Work at the OU featured as the top story in Community Care. The article features two of our students; Emma Govan and Laura Mynett. 

Raising a child with autism meant that Emma and her family received support from social workers, and she wanted to help other families in the same way. Faced with the challenges of juggling family, work and study Emma never lost focus and graduated in 2014. She has also been shortlisted for the Social Worker of the Year Award in the Scottish Association of Social Workers Awards 2016! 

After being made redundant, Laura applied for a job in an adoption agency and found she was the only non-social worker on the team. Alongside her day job she is now studying Social Work with us, and finds her tutor group forum gives her the extra push to study after being at work all day!

For more student stories and information about Social Work at the OU, please visit our website

HSC academics present at Northern Ireland Assembly

As part of the Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series, we are delighted that two of our HSC colleagues were invited to present their research linked to key policy areas at the Northern Ireland Assembly

Dr Lesley Hoggart, along with Dr Fiona Bloomer from University of Ulster, discussed the challenges and opportunities of the abortion policy in Northern Ireland, setting it within all-Ireland, United Kingdom and international context. They explored policy development in this area since the commencement of the Northern Ireland Assembly and analysed the extent to which this has been informed by evidence. The presentation is available to watch here

Dr Sharon Mallon's presentation focused on the rising rates of suicide in Northern Ireland. To date, the discussion has tended to focus on suicide among men, with little consideration given to suicide among women. This lack of attention is concerning as studies suggest there are important gender differences in suicidal behaviour. The presentation addressed this gap in our understanding by placing the female gender as a central factor in our analysis. The presentation is available to watch here

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

See more in our news archive

Follow us on: