Survey of wellbeing of Health and Social Care UK workforce

Close up view of a virus

School of SSESW academic John Moriarty was part of a Queen’s team that collaborated on a study of the Health and Social Care workforce across the UK during the first COVID-19 surge from May to July 2020. The survey is the first of three being conducted over a period of 18 months from May 2020 until October 2021. It has revealed key learnings for management to aid the wellbeing of staff.

The research project, led by Ulster University and supported by Queen’s, Bath Spa University and King’s College London, surveyed over 3,000 nurses, midwives, allied health professionals (such as occupational therapists), social workers and social care workers working in care homes and in people’s own homes about their wellbeing and coping strategies.

The research findings are endorsed by The British Association of Social Workers and outline a series of improvements for workforce management including how to improve work context and conditions and how improving connections and communications can be facilitated to aid staff wellbeing.

Amongst the areas for improvement are calls for enhancements to work context and conditions including greater flexibility around working hours, location of work (where possible) and recognition of caring responsibilities outside work. Some respondents also argued for more involvement in decision making, more autonomy and flatter hierarchies to allow staff to make well-informed decisions faster during times of crisis. Better and consistent communication from management is recommended to avoid the confusion experienced during the early days of the pandemic but was acknowledged as difficult.  Frequent check-ins and regular virtual contact with managers, peers and colleagues were valued by staff and impacted positively on wellbeing. 

John Moriarty said: ‘It is clear from our survey and report that our systems of health and care will only prove to be as resilient in the people who work in them. Many frontline staff attest to experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety and uncertainty throughout the pandemic. Anything that can be done by way of information and scenario-planning to reduce that uncertainty is likely to impact how those equipped those staff are for the enormous task ahead.’

Read the full report or the Executive Summary with Good Practice Guidance.