Social worker well-being during Covid-19 (Pan-Dorset and Wiltshire Teaching Partnership)

Tilia Lenz
Dr Orlanda Harvey
Dr Lou Oliver
2nd September 2020

Since March 2020, Covid 19 has had a global impact on people’s lives and significantly changed the face of Social Work in England.

In response to early comments from practitioners within the Pan-Dorset and Wiltshire Teaching Partnership, the Research Team at the National Centre for Cross-Disciplinary Social Work at Bournemouth University conducted research into the impact of Covid 19 on Social Work Practice (

An analysis of 145 responses showed significant changes to the ways in which supervision is conducted, how home visits are undertaken and how the use of video calls has become a practice norm.

However, the strongest theme was wellbeing, self-care and how practitioners have dealt with trauma and stress. Subsequently, the Teaching Partnership, which is already heavily invested in staff retention and staff development, took the opportunity to consider the research findings and share them with front-line practitioners in Social Care and Health.

On the 26th August 2020, Dr Orlanda Harvey, Tilia Lenz and Louise Downes (Lecturer Practitioner Consultants) discussed how Covid 19 has impacted the Social Work profession and how practitioners have coped with trauma and stress, particularly when the support of the team and management has not been physically around them. How do we cope with difficult conversations held via video calls whilst working at home? Does this feel like an invasion of the practitioners privacy and safe place?

Practitioners were invited to share their experiences, reflections and coping mechanisms in a Webinar through Padlet online tools and engaged to share learning from, with and for each other.

The recording of the webinar, along with other previous Masterclasses can be found here:

The Webinar struck a chord with the 60 practitioners who attended and here is just some of the positive feedback received from a research colleague from the NHS:

‘It was a privilege to have those insights into how everyone had coped, their experiences & reflections both positive and negative. It was also helpful to learn about coping mechanisms and key issues for creating a supportive environment for staff under pressure.’

Social Workers shared:

Tips on how to manage one’s own resilience, and I will definitely be doing a mind map. Also, very helpful to recognise that many social workers are feeling the same way. I had not identified that I was experiencing vicarious trauma, but things are now beginning to make more sense – as such I now feel better equipped to proactively begin to employ strategies to feel better!

‘Thanks. Very interactive and engaging. Probably the best training I have had on Teams so far!’

We are currently still collecting survey data from practitioners concerning the impact of COVID-19 on their working practices, stress and wellbeing and will be developing publications and resources from this work in the coming months.

Meet the author(s)

Tilia Lenz

Senior Lecturer Social Work and CPD Framework Social Sciences. (She/her)
Tilia is a Senior Lecturer for Social Work and the CPD Framework lead for Social Sciences. She is a qualified Social Pedagogue and registered Social Worker and spent 15 years in front line Children’s Services as a practitioner and manager. She undertook her MA studies in Managing and Developing Services in Health and Social Care at BU with the focus on Organisational Cultures and Staff Performance. She is now undertaking research for her PhD on ‘Relationship Performance Management in Child Protection’. She has a particular interest in practitioner wellbeing and resilience.
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Dr Orlanda Harvey

Senior lecturer in Social Work
Orlanda is a senior lecturer in the Social Work Team, specialising in Developing Professional Relationships and Leadership. She completed her doctoral research in 2020 exploring men's recreational use of Androgenic Anabolic Steroid Use. Her research interests include: Image and Performance Enhancing Substance Use, Domestic Violence and Abuse, leadership, and reflective practice.
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Dr Lou Oliver

Senior lecture
Louise is a senior lecturer with the social work team, teaching on both the qualifying and post-qualifying programmes. Louise is a qualified social worker who has predominantly worked in children's and families within local authorities.
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