Growing Older in Social Work: Perspective on Systems of Support to Extend Working Lives – Findings from a UK Survey

Paula Mc Fadden, John Moriarty, Heike Schroder, Patricia Mackin (now Gillen), Gillian Manthorpe, John Mallett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
112 Downloads (Pure)


Social work, like many other human service professions, is ageing. This article reports and discusses the findings of a UK social work survey undertaken in 2018 (1,397 responses). It investigated how organisational policies and individual factors were affecting individual social workers' decisions about working in later life. The survey measured (i) social workers' attitudes to ageing at work and self-reported planning around retirement; (ii) mental health and well-being, quality of working life and home and work interface and (iii) intention to leave work and retirement planning. Statistical analysis enabled examination of how the interrelationship of these factors and relevant individual characteristics interact within the systemic work environment. Findings revealed that all participants had considered factors that might cause them to retire early. Framing the findings in an ecological conceptual model suggests that age-inclusive professional and organisational cultures, age-positive human resource management, support from line managers, fair working conditions and the ability to manage health and well-being, might enable social workers to extend their working lives in line with government policy. These findings provide insights for social work workforce policymakers and for employers to assist in their development of organisational and individual adjustments to sustain well-being in the social work profession.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-426
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was unfunded but supported by the goodwill and time donated by participating authors with institutional support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Ageing in social work
  • intention to leave
  • quality of working life
  • social worker well-being


Dive into the research topics of 'Growing Older in Social Work: Perspective on Systems of Support to Extend Working Lives – Findings from a UK Survey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this