Working Conditions and Wellbeing 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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The spread of COVID-19 placed global health and social care systems under intense strain. In the first months of the pandemic in the United Kingdom (UK) health and social care, including social work employees, had significantly higher rates of COVID-19 infections than the general population (Office for National Statistics, 2020). While much attention was on severe pressures in the National Health Service (NHS) across the UK, it became evident that social care and social work services were being severely affected, with the UK’s 18,075 care homes in particular experiencing substantial deaths and infections among residents and staff (Bell et al., 2020). Other parts of social care and social work were also affected such as home care (domiciliary services) and frontline social work services leading to criticism that attention to the social care sector had come far too late (Comas Herrera et al., 2020). UK-wide National data covering March-December 2020 revealed that those who worked in social care occupations had statistically significantly higher rates of death involving COVID-19 when compared with rates of death involving COVID-19 in the population among those of the same age and sex (79.0 deaths per 100,000 males; 150 deaths) and women (35.9 deaths per 100,000 females; 319 deaths) (Office for National Statistics, 2021). These risks have been reported internationally (World Health Organization, 2020; Roxby et al. 2020), reflecting the interpersonal nature of social work and social care employment and the prevalence of COVID-19 among older age groups and disadvantaged communities (e.g. Berg-Weger and Morley, 2020; Ladhani, et al. 2020) using social care and social work services. This, combined with social workers in the UK having among the worst working conditions of any UK occupational sector (removed for anonymity 1), means that greater investigation of the impact of working conditions on staff is required.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social Work
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2 May 2022


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


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