The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on UK older people’s social workers: A mixed methods study

Justin Maclochlainn, Jill Manthorpe, J. Mallett, Susan Mc Grory, Jermaine Ravalier, Patricia Nicholl, Heike Schroder, Denise Currie, Paula McFadden

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The social work profession was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this study, we examined the well-being, working conditions and intentions to leave the social work profession among a sample of UK older people’s social workers. This was a cross-sectional mixed methods study analysing data from 426 social workers who worked in older people’s services in the UK at five time points of the pandemic spanning 2020–2022. Data were collected using anonymous online surveys which included both quantitative and qualitative questions. The mental well-being of participants decreased as the pandemic progressed and this decline was associated with intentions to leave the profession. Thematic analysis of qualitative data revealed two major themes: Practice challenges and Staff well-being. The findings highlight the nature of stressors related to internal related practice demands, and external health and social care service stressors encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic and have implications for policy, practice and research in older people’s social work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3838-3859
Number of pages22
JournalThe British Journal of Social Work
Issue number8
Early online date30 May 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 30 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Health and Social Care Research Division (HSC R&D Division) of the Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland (COVID Rapid Response Funding Scheme COM/5603/20), the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC) and the Southern Health and Social Care Trust and funding from England’s National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce-PR-PRU-1217–21002.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s).


  • COVID-19
  • Older People's Social Workers
  • Retention
  • Wellbeing
  • Working Conditions
  • Health (social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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