Working Conditions and Well-Being across the COVID Pandemic in UK Social (Care) Workers

Jermaine M Ravalier, Paula McFadden, Patricia Gillen, John Mallett, Patricia Nicholl, Ruth Neill, Jill Manthorpe, John Moriarty, Heike Schroder, Denise Curry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, social work and social care practitioners had some the worst working conditions of any sector in the UK. During the pandemic, data revealed that social care occupations had higher COVID infection and mortality rates than the general population. The article reports the changing working conditions (measured via the Work-Related Quality of Life scale) and well-being (measured via the Short Warwich–Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale) of UK social care and social workers across three timepoints between May 2020 and July 2021 through an online cross-sectional survey of working conditions and well-being. Analysis of variance demonstrated that both well-being and working conditions were significantly poorer in July 2021 (phase 3 [n = 1,606]) than the previous two phases (n = 2,523 and n = 2,424, respectively), suggesting that both working conditions and well-being worsened within the social care and social work workforce across the pandemic. Furthermore, each of career satisfaction, working conditions, control, general well-being and home–work interface predicted poorer well-being at Time 3. Whilst chronically poor working conditions can lead to poorer individual psychological and physiological health outcomes, our findings highlight continually poor conditions in this sector, with potential further impacts on organisations and the service users that social care workers support. It is therefore important that individuals, organisations and government develop mechanisms to support these critical workers during and following the pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe British Journal of Social Work
Early online date16 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished online - 16 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • health
  • mental health
  • social care
  • social work
  • working conditions

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