By Dr Paula McFadden and Dr Patricia Gillen, Ulster University
While, it has been made clear, by the World Health Organisation, among others, that fighting the Covid-19 pandemic is everybody’s business, the main burden for caring and treating our citizens falls to frontline health and social care services.
Previous studies undertaken with health care staff during the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) outbreaks highlight the stress placed on staff and their coping strategies. While staff nurses admitted worrying about infecting their families and colleagues, they were able to cope due to a number of strategies including deriving support from colleagues and recognition by employers of their efforts and receiving infection control guidance and equipment.
But despite our experience of pandemics, there is limited reporting in the literature about how health and social care workers cope with meeting the challenges of caring for patients, in both hospital and community settings, while potentially putting their own health at risk.
That is why we are carrying out a study to explore the impact of working on the frontline under Covid-19, how workers cope and what lessons can be learned from this pandemic, which will inform health and social employers’ planning for future ones.
To inform our research, we are surveying social workers and social care workers on their experience. We are interested in the professional quality of their working lives, social and emotional wellbeing and methods of coping at this time. We are also working with other health disciplines to reach nurses, midwives and allied health professional workers and we will collate the collective voice of these frontline staff and publish the findings.
The responses to the survey will help inform employers and policymakers about what the workforce needs to cope during a pandemic. This is a unique opportunity to be part of a survey that will have meaningful impact to evidence what works, and what needs to be introduced to support staff to manage and cope with the demands of work during these extraordinarily challenging times.
If you are a social worker or social care worker who is currently employed, self-employed or an agency worker, within any area of health and social care in the UK, we want to hear from you.
Please follow the link or scan the QR code below, which will take you to some further information on the study and a questionnaire which will take 15 minutes to complete.
Please share this invitation (on social media or by email) to take part in this research with fellow social workers and social care workers in the UK. If you would like further information about the research, please contact Dr Paula McFadden at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr Patricia Gillen at email@example.com
About the research
The research is funded by the Southern Health & Social Care Trust Research Fund and the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (SCC). However professional regulators, associations and workplace unions including the Northern Ireland Practice and Education Committee for Nursing and Midwifery, the Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwifes, Royal College of Occupational Therapists, British Dental Association, College of Podiatry and Norther Ireland Social Care Council are helping to get the questionnaire to participants. Community Care is helping with dissemination to social workers and social care workers in the UK. Sincere thanks to our funders and partners in support with this research and a special thanks to you, the social workers and social care workers for responding to this survey.