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What is the Difference between Healthcare and Social care?

A Lady Doctor with her notes

It is impossible to imagine our world functioning in the absence of health and social care. The nurturing provided by this system has helped to bring smiles to millions of families.The rising debate regarding the dissimilarity between the two systems might lead to people disregarding the interconnection between health and social care. If you are willing to be of service to people, then the health and social care sector welcomes you to work to improve others.Let us look into this global infrastructure in details, along with its prospective career opportunities.

What is health and social care?

Health and social care refer to the health care infrastructure which includes both the public and private sector.Health is perceived as a function of welfare, which depends on a number of factors including biological, environmental, nutrition and living standards.

Healthcare focuses on providing medical care to individuals and communities.As health care deals with the diagnosis and treatment of both physical and mental disabilities, it has always been perceived as one of society’s greatest necessities.It strives to reduce social inequality when accessing health care.Conventionally, the health care system can be classified into three different sectors:

  • Hospital care – This can be further classified into two types: acute care, which covers a complete range of medical specialities and long-stay care, implemented during psychiatric care and prolonged nursing care.In the present time, long-stay care is becoming less popular with time, promoting acute care offering hospitals.
  • Primary care – This is the primary focus of medical care in practice.It refers to basic medical treatments and non-hospital care including family practitioners, home nursing and therapies, dentistry, optics and pharmacy.
  • Public health – This is one of the crucial issues for the well-being of global population. It deals with preventive medicine and certain areas not associated with traditional health services such as housing, water supplies, sewage and food hygiene.

Social care deals with the daily activities of living which not only include deed such as feeding and basic hygiene maintenance, but also involves in maintaining a person’s independence, promoting social interaction, protection from vulnerable circumstances and coping with complex relationships.Social care is generally funded by social service organisations and philanthropists, focusing on children, adults and the elderly at risk or suffering from illness, disability or poverty. Its infrastructure is based on the four pillars of:

  • Social work – Social workers aim to establish change by solving social and personal problems. This practice can be either micro-work, which concerns individuals and small groups at risk or macro-work involving working with communities.
  • Personal care – These include distribution of personal hygiene and beauty products (tissues, cotton pads, shaving cream, razors, etc.) among the less privileged.
  • Protection – This programme is designed to reduce poverty, unemployment and other concerns that degrade people’s well-being.
  • Social support – Social support assistance engages in nurturance, giving personal advice, sense of belonging and financial assistance. It also reaches out to support gender and cultural differences.


Due to a rise in people who come under the old-age bracket, social care is becoming increasingly popular each year. In recent months, this complex system has overcome acute crisis and is stirring up the political agenda.


Healthcare vs social care

  • The healthcare and social care system can be considered as one because their collaborative work makes the society a better place. Regardless of all challenges, their intertwined services have led politicians and policymakers to think broadly about equal funding for both health and social care.
  • According to UK experts, co-dependency between the two systems comes with its downside, leading to inadequate fund settlement and delayed fund transfers from health to social care.
  • One of the advantages of the prevalence of a standard social care system is that it can help reduce unnecessary hospital visits by patients. Furthermore, this ensures a quick discharge of patients from hospital post-treatment, making them less dependent on healthcare bodies.


Differences between healthcare and social care

One of the major differences between healthcare and social care systems is based on how their services are delivered. Health care services are provided by the National Health Service (NHS), the publicly funded national healthcare system for the UK, which can provide free services to the underprivileged. Social care services, on the other hand, are run by local authorities who might or might not have the authority to spend money without the approval of the government.

A large portion of our global population comes under the category of senior citizens and this is a direct consequence of the rise in population. Thankfully, health care services are making an effort to function at its best and help people survive longer than expected. On the other hand, social care services get to deal with challenging issues because of the lack of agreement between personal and public responsibilities.


Why is health and social care a valuable career?

If you are looking for a fulfilling career which involves supporting the less fortunate and making an impact on our society, then you are the right fit to become a health worker or social care worker.There are several highly valued jobs and career paths that can give you an opportunity to serve the less fortunate.

You could take up jobs as a care worker, social worker, community support worker, occupational therapist, end of life caretaker, mental health assistant and residential counsellor. Health and social work courses help you acquire skills that can help you get an established career in the health and social care sector. Below you can find the skills an aspiring student needs to develop in order to pursue this career path:

  • A sense of empathy for an individual’s personal problems;
  • Being patient when dealing with a person suffering from challenging health and social problems;
  • An observant nature while noticing a person's changing conditions;
  • Offering practical solutions while engaging in healthcare and social work.


To undergo a life-changing professional development course and secure meaningful work placements, we encourage you to take up the courses offered by theSchool of Health department at St Patrick’s. The college believes in delivering the highest learning standards while meeting the students’ needs.


This article was written by Deblina Dam and edited by Alessandra Maffei.

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