The impact of COVID-19 on social care and social work in the UK: A scoping review

Jan Owens (Lead), Alys Young (Collaborator), Rosie Allen (Collaborator), Amelia Pearson (Collaborator), Patricia Cartney (Collaborator), Catherine Robinson (Collaborator), Rebecca Mcphillips (Collaborator), Sue Davies (Collaborator), Martyn Regan (Collaborator)

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Prior to the COVID pandemic, staffing levels, staff turnover and vacancies in adult social care and social work within the UK were a major concern, with staff experiencing high workloads, burnout, stress and poor morale. The paucity of published evidence in a rapidly evolving contemporary situation indicated the suitability of a scoping review. Systematic searching produced evidence published between 1/12/2019 – 09/05/2023. Out of 97 articles retrieved, the final analysis included 39. To report the review findings clearly and accessibly, analysis used the Patterns, Advances, Gaps, Evidence for practice and Research recommendations (PAGER) framework. Abundant evidence emerged on psychological distress and the impact of COVID-19 on the working environment for social care and social workers, but a paucity on psychosocial resilience, supporting social care managers, Personal Assistants and moral injury. Social care needs and the statutory duties of social work are likely to become even more intense. The COVID pandemic magnified a chronic lack of funding, staffing, support and regard for adult social care, with no future planning compared to the NHS. This legacy and backlogs of social care assessment and service delivery is of concern despite the proposed actions of the Adult Social Care Reform Act in England.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberbcad237
JournalThe British Journal of Social Work
Early online date3 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Nov 2023


  • COVID-19
  • social care


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