As COVID-19 related restrictions begin to ease across the United Kingdom and vaccination is rolling out, it is important that our health and social care workforce is fully supported, contributes to new thinking about work practices, and is involved with planning for any future crises.
COVID-19 was a period of major changes in services, risk management and working practices. But it is not just one period – there were different waves and different pressures. We are exploring the health and wellbeing of frontline social care workers, social workers, nurses, midwives, and Allied Healthcare Professionals (AHPs) across the UK to formulate recommendations based on their experiences. The unique part of our study is that we are reaching a wide range of staff, in different settings, and have collected evidence from two previous surveys. In mid-May 2021 we launch our third survey – and need as many responses as possible.
Our two previous surveys produced valuable findings from the 3,500 respondents to each. The first took place from May to July 2020 and the second from November 2020 to January 2021. We found that overall well-being and work-related quality of life decreased across the workforce when we compared the two survey results. People were using used more negative coping strategies (e.g. venting, self-blame) to deal with increased work-related stressors rather than positive coping strategies (active coping, planning, emotional support). Our second survey found three-quarters of our respondents were experiencing moderate to high levels of personal burnout (74.7%) and two-thirds work-related burnout (66.3.%).
From both surveys we developed a set of recommendations for employers and policy makers. We grouped them under Changing Conditions, Connections and Communication. The full reports from the first and second surveys, including the Summaries with Good Practice Guidance, are on our website www.hscworkforcestudy.co.uk.
We have now reached the time for the third survey (May-July 2021) when we are once again examining the quality of working life, mental well-being, burnout and coping of nurses, midwives, AHPs, social care workers and social workers. Some are working in a largely post-pandemic phase but many others are still working with the impact of the virus as it affects service users, residents and patients. Our aim is to further explore work changes over the last six months as restrictions begin to ease. The findings from this survey will help provide data which employers can use to make evidence informed, organisational level policy adjustments to support their workforce during COVID-19 and beyond.
If you are a social care worker, social worker, nurse, midwife or AHP, who is currently employed (this includes working as an agency/bank worker) or self-employed in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic then please share your experiences with us by completing our short survey. Please click on the survey link below or scan the QR code for further information on the study and the questionnaire to complete. It just takes around 15 minutes to complete. We would be delighted to hear from you.
For more information about this research, please contact Paula McFadden on email@example.com or Patricia Gillen on firstname.lastname@example.org or Jill Manthorpe email@example.com. Ethical approval has been given to the study and all responses are confidential.
The research team thanks everybody who responded to the two earlier surveys and all the many organisations across the UK that have promoted and contributed to this study. This research is partly funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Policy Research Programme, through the Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce, PR-PRU-1217-21202. The views expressed in the reports are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.