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There is a good chance you are reading this because you are planning to be, or already are, a social care practitioner. Yet for many in Irish society, even those entering the field themselves, the meaning of the term ‘social care’ is not self- evident. A common question directed at social care students and professionals alike is, ‘What do you do?’ Misconceptions abound and in many cases practitioners are not accorded the recognition or status they deserve, partly as a consequence of a limited understanding of what the term means This chapter explores the notion of social care itself. Some definitions are examined, phrase by phrase, to see what is involved. A short history of social care in Ireland is provided, placing the current set of institutions and practices in a historical context. Aspects of social care practice are described, such as what qualities practitioners possess; what sort of work is involved; what practitioners do and where they do it; how much they get paid; and the difference between a social care practitioner and a social worker.
Lalor, K. & Share, P. (2013). Understanding social care. In K. Lalor and P. Share (Eds.), Applied social care: An introduction for students in Ireland (3rd edition, pp. 3-18). Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.