Social workers and social care practitioners: tell us about Covid-19’s impact on your work life

Help Community Care build a detailed picture about how employers have adapted to the pandemic, how children's and adults' practitioners feel about the government's response and how coronavirus has affected practice

Image of coronavirus (credit: Romolo Tavani / Adobe Stock)
(credit: Romolo Tavani / Adobe Stock)


This survey has now closed. Community Care will report on the results shortly. Thanks to all you participated.

It goes without saying that the coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on most people’s personal and working lives.

More than in most occupations, people working in social work and social care have had to make rapid adaptations to the way they carry out their duties – whether that’s by transferring meetings into the virtual realm, conducting socially distanced visits or simply working from home.

Conditions within care homes have – as with those in hospitals – rightly been the focus of national media scrutiny in recent weeks as the death toll from Covid-19 has mounted.

But there has been less examination to date of how coronavirus has affected local authority or NHS social workers and other social care practitioners working with children, families, adults and carers to take referrals, assess or review needs, plan care or safeguard those at risk.

If you are a social worker – whether newly qualified or in senior management – social work student, social work assistant, social care assessor or you work in family support or early help, Community Care would like to hear about your experiences since the outbreak began.

We want to build as detailed a picture as possible around how employers have adapted their working methods, how practitioners feel about the government’s response to the pandemic, and how it has affected you and the people you support.

We are also keen to hear about how those services, which have already faced a decade of austerity, have held up under the fresh pressures exerted by the virus – and what positive lessons have been learned from new ways of working.

The survey should take no more than 20 minutes of your time. Responses are by default anonymous, though there is also the facility to leave your contact details if you are willing to discuss your experiences in more depth – and in strict confidence – with a journalist from Community Care.

The survey will run until midnight on Friday 15 May 2020.

Community Care will share the findings in a forthcoming report as soon as we are able to.

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16 Responses to Social workers and social care practitioners: tell us about Covid-19’s impact on your work life

  1. karanuts May 5, 2020 at 3:05 pm #

    Told not to go in but what the employer meant was come in practical terms and ignore official guidance by the government.

  2. Clo Kundeya May 7, 2020 at 7:49 am #

    Asked to work from home. Had no PPE and changes made for social workers not to visit wards. Eventually nurses were asked to discharge patients. We monitor & review packages. I fear that the NHS is at risk of being sued for compensation by staff that worked without PPE especially those that got ill and recovered and families of the deceased. Its sad indeed.

  3. AJEESH K S May 7, 2020 at 9:24 am #

    This is Ajeesh K S a Child Care Social Worker from Kerala, India. Like everyone around the world who are practicing lock down we are also doing the same. Like everyone the Covid-19 has also impacted on my life as well as my work. I am restricted to what I was abled to do normally, had to work and give support through online. But we are fighting with all our strength and no force can defeat us if we are together.

  4. Rosie May 7, 2020 at 5:15 pm #

    I’m a social work masters student. Our first placements got cancelled by or university. Now completing further work to cover the work lost from not being out on placement. Not 100% sure if we are going on final placement in September. Not sure if our graduation date will change which then affects qualifying and getting into our ASYE year. Social work England have said its down to the higher education institutions to make decisions. Do we still do 170 days placement? No one knows yet!

    • Jonathan May 7, 2020 at 10:12 pm #

      I think it will be hugely beneficial for your learning to do your final placement.

  5. Veronika Belovarska May 7, 2020 at 6:15 pm #

    I am a BA student in my last placement. I was fortunate to have my placement going during these times. I have another 5 days to complete the so longed 100 days of final Placement. Yay!
    I was very well supported by my Practice educator and even working from home, I felt I was able to reach my clients and support them with their needs and concerns.
    I love Adult Social Care and I am planning to continue working with Adults for the duration of my future career.

  6. Therese Holcroft May 8, 2020 at 6:44 am #

    I am an independent Social Woeker. I undertake a variety of assessments of need, create care plans for self funding clients and manage mental capacity assessments plus assessments under COP.
    I create welfare reports to assist solicitors and familys who manage finances under the Court of protectillon/ LPAs ensuring clients needs are met. In order to do this I visit adults of all ages in their own homes, people in care homes and supported accommodation and, visit hospitals and mental health units.
    I complete various DWP applications, and support carers. I review situations regularly as many of the people I see are not open cases to Local Authoritys.
    To do the above and much more face to face visits are essential.
    Since the onset of the Covid 19 precautions I have been unable to visit most of the above. My last visit was on Mach 11th, when the virus had egun to cause concern.
    I therefore have had no income since then.
    Particularly with the elderly mentally ill, virtual contact is not conducive, seeing someone on s screen or speaking to them by phone, is not a true assessment.
    I need the face to face contact even with social distancing and PPE, to make my assessments person centred and holistic. I need to see their environment and a verbal conversation to me, reduces the quality of my work.
    I miss my clients, I have concerns for many, and can only hope that we soon reach stage where the covid19 virus can be controlled.

  7. June May 8, 2020 at 12:09 pm #

    A social work student started her final placement with me in January. Luckily we did get visits and observations completed before the lockdown. She has been working alone at home since then but still completed a successfulplacement. We have had many audio/video calls and even managed some interactive supervision sessions. Our team meets on Skype daily so she has been a part of that and the rest of the team have supported her with calls etc.

    I wouldn’t have signed up for it but between us we have made it work. The student has been excellent and more than proved her ability to adapt to change. She has already been offered a post in our Local authority who have already stated that the ASYE year will need to be adapted to recognise that students caught up in this may need further support in some areas while acknowledging how well they have done to manage these exceptional circumstances.

  8. MATSEPO May 10, 2020 at 4:46 am #

    I am a social worker for government department in South Africa. The country is on lockdown but our services have been deemed essential and therefore we continue working throughout the period of lockdown.

    We have PPE in terms of masks and sanitizers. I think because of the our country being a third world country, we literally do more welfare. A call Centre was set up and beneficiaries call in for food parcels. Social workers still have to deliver such to clients. This is an area where we get exposed. Most of our services have thus taken a back seat. It has been 44 days, donations for food is coming in in large quantities from both government and business.
    A temporary Unemployment fund was also set up for people that find themselves with no means of support due to the lockdown.

    It seems while we are focused on food relief, our cases are piling up. Foster placements are lapsing. We will have a huge backlog of cases to take to court for placements once things go back to normal.
    I think we are truly exposed, although we have been told to use telephones for contact we ith clients, not all clients have access and some of our offices still don’t have phones in place.

  9. Bobby Brown May 12, 2020 at 1:06 pm #

    This is now my 7th week working at home , in the 42 years of working for the local council , Social Services , I have never felt the need to leave, I am always open to changeling complex work , the first to do the home visit , give me field of ‘wondered soldiers’ etc..

    But this has this has broken my sprit to want to pack in , leave the job, which I have enjoyed meeting people of all race and faith , some disadvantage, others not but still requiring support.

    I am usual resilient , have a moan and move on , but this has made me question many things , including my compassion, empath and ethical thoughts . How do I now deliver these over the phone to people in need , at fist it felt I was meeting their need, but the last few weeks have become has if I am on auto pilot preventing ‘risks’ rather than working with the person .

    I know there is lots of us working alone and the people we meet are more desperate than us , but when working in isolation I begin to question my competence and should I now pack in as I could be failing those who need the most help.

  10. Helena May 13, 2020 at 12:22 pm #

    Can’t find the link to this survey…can anyone help?

  11. Rosaline May 16, 2020 at 7:20 pm #

    All Social Workers please ensure you remember, before any visit a risk assessment MUST be completed and ensure you declare any vulnerabilities. Also, the vulnerabilities of those you live with and support. Please do not feel pressured to put yourself at risk. If your employer is not supporting you as required, please speak to your union, BASW and/or HR department. There are health and safety laws in existence to protect the work force and those we are employed to serve and protect.

  12. Eyore May 17, 2020 at 8:28 am #

    As a social worker in Adult Social Care Hospital team
    I have really struggled with the knowledge that people where being placed in homes where there was not sufficient PPE. We would not place someone without the correct MH equipment being in place, it would be seen as an unsafe discharge.
    I questioned why our LA was going along with it.

    I have really struggled working from home and holding this information and wondering how many people we have knowing sent to a situation where the probability was they were going to catch Covid 19. At one point I compared myself to a “camp guard” “ just following orders”.

    Our HA took over the discharges from hospital with Pathways it their focus is on emptying hospital beds rather than people’s assessed needs.

    I do understand we are all trying to do the best we can.
    I do think the beginning of rushing people into homes could have been better managed.

    The PPE situation seems to have eased and measures have now been put in place to stop admissions until
    there is a negative Covid test result and then to isolate people for a fortnight on arrival to prevent the introduction and spread in care/ nursing homes.

    It’s just a bit late for those who died , perhaps due to being placed knowingly , in placements where PPE was not available to the staff working there.

  13. James Appledore May 24, 2020 at 3:11 pm #

    We are an overly bureaucratised profession sadly led by passionless and un-inspiring leaders. This should be our time to re-imagine future directions. Where are the voices articulating a new vision for reclaiming social work from the budget holders, the Directors unable to comprehend us, managers who see “choice” as a business opportunity. I want us to reclaim social work so we feel empowered to work ethically, to embrace self determination for service users and ourselves. I want leaders who don’t just nod and wring their hands, who challenge employers and the government, who do not think today is never the right day for real social change; who don’t fool themselves and con us that they are better able to influence decision makers by engaging in endless and meaningless dialogue with them. Lets reclaim social work from the blight of consumerist ideologues and make it personal to ourselves and real to service users.

  14. Joanna Cohen May 30, 2020 at 6:09 am #

    Rosaline you raise valid point. Thanks