Working conditions and well-being in UK social care and social work during COVID-19

Jermaine Ravalier, Ruth D. Neill, Paula Mc Fadden, Jill Manthorpe, Patricia Gillen, John Mallett, Patricia Nicholl, Heike Schroder, Denise Currie, John Moriarty

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Stress and mental health are among the biggest causes of sickness absence in the UK, with the Social Work and Social Care sectors having among the highest levels of stress and mental health sickness absence of all professions in the UK. Chronically poor working conditions are known to impact employees' psychological and physiological health. The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected both the mode and method of work in Social Care and Social Work. Through a series of cross-sectional online surveys, completed by a total of 4,950 UK Social Care and Social Workers, this study reports the changing working conditions and well-being of UK Social Care and Social Workers at two time points (phases) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All working conditions and well-being measures were found to be significantly worse during Phase 2 (November–January 2021) than Phase 1 (May–July 2020), with worse psychological well-being than the UK average in Phase 2. Furthermore, our findings indicate that in January 2021, feelings about general well-being, control at work, and working conditions predicted worsened psychological well-being.
Our findings highlight the importance of understanding and addressing the impact of the pandemic on the Social Care and Social Work workforce, thus highlighting that individuals, organizations, and governments need to develop mechanisms to support these employees during and beyond the pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Article number146801732211094
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Social Work
Early online date6 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was funded by seed funding from the Northern Ireland Social Care Council and the Southern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland, and the NIHR Policy Research Programme grant to the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce at King's College London (grant number NIHR PRP).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Working conditions
  • wellbeing
  • social care workers
  • social workers
  • COVID- 19


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