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Health and Social Care Workforce Research Study

Examining the health and social care workers' mental wellbeing and quality of working life during COVID-19 

This collaborative research project is led by Ulster University and supported by researchers from Queen's University Belfast, Bath Spa University and King's College London. It focuses on mental wellbeing, quality of working life, burnout and coping strategies in nurses, midwives, allied health professionals, social care workers and social workers from across the UK, with the aim to provide evidence-based recommendations for supporting the workforce not just during Covid-19, but also during business as usual times.

The research commenced with funding from the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, and the NIHR Policy Research Programme grant to the NIHR PRU in Health and Social Care Workforce (King's College London), which was used to collect data from the health and social care workers in UK using an online survey during the first wave of the ​Covid-19 pandemic (May - July 2020). Further funding was then secured from the Public Health Agency HSC R&D Division to extend the research study until May 2023.

The research has also received support from Community Care ©, Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council for Nursing and Midwifery, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Midwifery, Royal College of Occupational Therapists, British Dietetic Association and others.

The Research Team

The research team consists of experienced academics and researchers from four UK universities who have a passion for improving people's lives by delivering high quality research with real life implications.  

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Dr Paula McFadden

Principal Investigator

Dr McFadden is the Principal Investigator on the Health and Social Care Workforce Study and the lead on the social work and social care aspect of the study. She is a senior lecturer in social work at Ulster University, whose research interests focus on workforce wellbeing, resilience and burnout. Currently, Dr McFadden is working with Dr Ravalier on global research with the International Federation of Social Work, on working conditions in international countries.

Dr McFadden is the convener for the European Social Work Research Association, Workforce Research Special Interest Group, which has recently been established, and has international membership, ensuring workforce research networks are established and ideas and synergy opportunities are enabled.

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Dr Patricia Gillen


Patricia is a reader in Nursing and Midwifery Research and Development at Ulster University. She is also the Head of Research and Development of Nurses, Midwives and AHPs in the Southern HSC Trust.

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Dr John Moriarty


John is a lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work at Queen's University Belfast.

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Dr John Mallett


John Mallett is a Senior Lecturer at Ulster University and a chartered psychologist with the British Psychological Society. He has served as a statistical reviewer for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and has published in the areas of mental health and health psychology.

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Dr Heike Schroder


Heike is a lecturer in Human Resource Management in Queen's Management School at Queen's University Belfast. Her research interest is in Diversity and Inclusion research. She explores the determinants of labour market outcomes of women and older workers focusing on the interplay of macro-level institutional factors, meso-level organisational factors and individual-level determinants.

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Dr Jermaine Ravalier


Dr Jermaine M Ravalier is Reader in Work & Wellbeing (Psychology) at Bath Spa University. His research expertise is in Occupational Health and Wellbeing - and in particular in the Mental Health and Wellbeing of public sector (Healthcare, Social Care, and Social Work) staff across the UK and beyond. His work is generally two-fold: first he works with employees to co-develop, implement, and evaluate mental health interventions; and secondly he assesses working conditions with social care workers across the world through working with BASW, SWU, and the IFSW, among others.

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Prof Jill Manthorpe


Jill Manthorpe is Director of the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care at King's College London. She is also Associate Director of the NIHR School for Social Care Research and social care theme lead in the NIHR Applied Research Collaborative (ARC) South London. She carries out a wide range of workforce research relating to policy and practice; for several years she has been Visiting Professor at Ulster University and latterly at Queen's University Belfast.

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Dr Denise Currie


Denise is a senior lecturer in Queen's Management School at Queen's University Belfast. Her research interests lie broadly in employee relations with particular interest in the various dynamics and organisational processes that are integral to creating positive working environments. Specifically, she has interests in partnering and collaboration, conflict management and diversity and inclusion. Her current work involves examining these issues within the context of public service delivery, particularly for social care, and considers the discipline of HRM, organisational behaviour and the sociology of work.


Dr Justin MacLochlainn

Research Assistant

Justin is currently working as a full-time research assistant on our "Safer and Effective Staffing in Social Work Project". He  previously was the Research Assistant on our "Health and Social Care Workforce Study". Since getting his PhD in Psychology in 2022, he has been working on a variety of projects in the area of mental health and well-being.


Dr Ruth Flanagan

Research Assistant

Ruth is currently a research assistant on the HSC workforce impact study. The impact project examined the role of HR managers and advisors in ensuring appropriate design and implementation of wellbeing policy. Since completing her PhD, Ruth has assisted on several impact and engagement projects as part of her role as impact and engagement research officer in Queen’s Business School.

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