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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Hospital Social Work & COVID-19: Distance and moral distress

Phillips, Carrie, Deacon, Lesley, Ling, Jonathan and Burrows, Daniel (2023) Hospital Social Work & COVID-19: Distance and moral distress. In: JSWEC 2023, 15-16/06/2023, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


This poster reports on preliminary findings from a research project which aims to identify factors that impact on how social workers practice in NHS hospitals, to inform teaching and training of hospital social workers (HSW). The project comprises three phases; Freedom of Information requests to local authorities and NHS Trusts; interviews with HSW across two local authority teams; and a questionnaire to gather information about the attitudes and experiences of HSW across the UK.

The first two phases of the project found that the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant and ongoing impact on HSW. Most HSW teams are employed by the local authority but support designated NHS hospitals. During the pandemic, some teams moved to local authority premises, with a significant increase in homeworking. One such team reported difficulties maintaining relationships with ward staff; communication gaps; and prioritising safeguarding and mental capacity assessments when visiting the hospital. Other teams were situated within their ‘host’ hospital for the duration of the pandemic, and one such team reported strong relationships with ward staff, identifying themselves as an integral part of the hospital service. However, this team reported more distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, due to fear and uncertainty about the virus; high numbers of deaths on the wards, as well as personal bereavements; and policies which restricted the autonomy of patients. Some HSW felt that changes (such as limiting care home choice) created in response to a national emergency were now embedded in practice, to the detriment of patients.

This research adds to evidence that there is an urgent need, at a national level, to recognise the medium to long-term impact of the pandemic on HSW, and to understand the key role that HSW play in protecting the rights of NHS patients.

PDF (Poster for JSWEC 2023)
Poster JSWEC 2023 Final.pdf - Published Version

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More Information

Depositing User: Carrie Phillips


Item ID: 16306

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Carrie Phillips: ORCID iD
ORCID for Lesley Deacon: ORCID iD
ORCID for Jonathan Ling: ORCID iD
ORCID for Daniel Burrows: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2023 14:52
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2023 08:00


Author: Carrie Phillips ORCID iD
Author: Lesley Deacon ORCID iD
Author: Jonathan Ling ORCID iD
Author: Daniel Burrows ORCID iD

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society > School of Social Sciences


Social Sciences > Health and Social Care

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