Paula McFadden
  • Northlands Road, Magee Campus

    BT48 7JL Londonderry

    United Kingdom

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Personal profile


Dr Paula McFadden is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Ulster University, with research interests on workforce wellbeing, resilience, and burnout.  McFadden currently is working with the Department of Health Northern Ireland on the Safe Staffing in Social Work research study which will inform policy and legislative development of Safe Staffing law soon to emerge in Northern Ireland.   McFadden conducted a series of award winning UK wide research studies, examining burnout, workforce ageing in social work, and wellbeing. In June 2020, McFadden was awarded funding by the Health and Social Care Board, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland to study ‘COVID-19: UK Health and Social Care Workforce Wellbeing and Coping’ over a 3 year period.  Fulll results and publications can be found in the link   This research informs employers, regulators, professional bodies, and service commissioners, about the key issues for workers and provides strategic guidance on what is needed to address workforce concerns relating to staff absence, turnover and retention.  McFadden has collaborated with colleagues in Japan, on comparisons of workforce wellbeing and coping of social workers, nurses and social care workers in the UK and Japan (in older people residential care) during COVID-19 in both contexts during 2021.  In addition to workforce research, McFadden is also interested in social work education and graduate preparation for social work practice.  McFadden has collaborated with authors from international countries on social work regulatory comparisons including curriculum and practicum.  During the onset of COVID-19, McFadden also collaborated with international social work educational providers, on rapid changes to admissions and education due to social distancing and lock down restrictions.  McFadden is also the founder and co-convenor of the Workforce Research Special Interest Group with ESRWA.  Full academic profile can be found here

Dr McFadden is collaborating with the International Federation of Social Work (IFSW) and Bath Spa University on a global study of social work working conditions across international countries.  The first survey was lauched in 2020 and the second survey will launch in September 2023. This is the first study to examine working conditions and wellbeing of social workers across the globe, enabling country specific information to inform governments, Non Goverment Organizations and service commissioners and regulators to take an informed approach to workforce and service planning.

Teaching Interests

Dr McFadden teaches at Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels at Ulster University. She is also part of a regional partnership between Ulster University and Queens University Belfast, Praxis Care © and the Health and Social Care Board, Regional Social Work and Social Care Research Strategy, to develop an Open Access course for service user’s and carer’s involvement in research activities.

Dr McFadden is the program lead for the MSc in Research Methods for Social Work and Service Users at Ulster University. She also teaches on the Adult Safeguarding program, which is a regional course delivered in partnership with employers.

Dr McFadden is course convenor for a final year module on the BSc Hons Degree in Social Work, on Interventions in Multidisciplinary Contexts. Her specialist areas of teaching are on Older People and Disability social work practice. She also leads on teaching on ‘Resilience in Social Work Practice’ during first year and final year modules. 

PhD Researcher Profile

Dr McFadden is supervising PhD students whose interests are related to social work workforce wellbeing and practice issues.  McFadden is  currently supervisiing an interdisciplinary PhD student focusing on school based social work and the impact of this 'early intervention' approach on the wellbeing of children at risk of harm and entry to child protection systems.  Dr McFadden is also supervising a PhD candidate on use of creative methods to build resilience in social work students and inform the curriculum.  Dr McFadden welcomes applications from potential PhD candidates who are interested in pursing research in the realms of social work workforce wellbeing and the practice areas outlined.

Current and Recent Grants

1. DoH led project on safe staffing in social work policy leading to safe staffing in social work guidance.

McFadden. P., Mallet., J, McGrory., S et al £78,329.60

Department of Health / Northern Ireland Social Care Council

1st January - 31st December 2023

2. Health & Social Care workers' quality of working life and coping while working during Covid-19 Pandemic

Mallett, J.Gillen, P. & Mc Fadden, P.

HSC NI R&D Office Covid 19: £70,000.00

24/08/20 → 23/08/21

Award date: 31/07/20


3. Hopeful Minds in Malaysia: A School Based Mental health promotion programme designed for Children or Young Adolescents

Hutchinson, K.Armour, C.Mc Fadden, P. & Kirby, K.

Department for the Economy: £37,785.00

1/04/17 → 31/07/19

Award date: 9/10/17


4. Nurses and Midwives Self-Report on Health and Wellbeing Concerns relating to the Desire to Stay or Leave Work at Varying Stages of their Career

Gillen, P. & Mc Fadden, P.

South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust: £7,064.00

19/03/19 → 31/12/20

Award date: 26/03/19


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


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