Skip to content


A Social care-based evaluation of COVID-19: Understanding workforce response and effects (the SECURE study)

What are we trying to do?

This study is about the impact of COVID-19 on adult social care and social work services in England. The programme of research is initially being conducted in Greater Manchester with a view to extending some elements of the work to other regions in future.


The aims of the study are to:

  • Explore and understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on practitioners and organisations providing social work and social care to adults
  • Describe and measure the medium and long term effects of acute and unexpected changes in the legislative, policy and work environment on social care, including:
    • Strategy
    • Organisations
    • Practice and service delivery
    • Staff
    • People with lived experience


Why is it important?

The COVID-19 pandemic has made increasing demands on the adult social care sector whose remit, scope and forms of service delivery are complex.  Understanding the acute, medium and long-term effects of and responses to COVID-19 will help to inform decision making and optimise organisational responses to further waves of the disease, and mitigate any negative long-term effects on organisations, adult social work and social care staff and services.  Equally, this study will identify positive gains in terms of working practices and innovation in service delivery that has been stimulated by current working conditions, and the actions required to sustain them.


How are we doing it?

In this study we are adopting a mixed-methods approach, including:

  • Scoping review
  • Online survey (time 1): 
    • a stratified sample representing the complexity of the sector
    • questions including: strategy, organisation, practice, social demography, ethnicity, work demography, work related factors (burnout, sickness absence); Covid-19 related factors; individual well-being
  • GM routinely collected adult social care data
    • routine data typically includes e.g. workforce vacancies, referral numbers, response times, statutory assessment/review processes, expenditure data and social care-related quality of life (taken from user and carer surveys)
    • the purpose is to look at patterns of service demand and response, service delivery changes, economic, resource and workforce impacts as well as additional COVID-specific data
    • data has been collected and analysed over several time points including a pre-COVID period to establish baseline data against which changes from future time points have been compared  


  • Qualitative study:
    • semi-structured interviews with
      • a sub-sample of those who completed the survey
      • purposive sample of leaders and managers of social work and social care organisations
  • A second online survey:
    • we are refining the second survey informed by initial survey responses (time 1), secondary data analysis and qualitative analysis
    • the second survey is capturing data from individuals who did not complete the initial survey (time 1)
  • Standards instruments are being utilised as part of the study, e.g. Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (SWEMBS) to assess global wellbeing, the EuroQol (EQ-5D-5L) scale to assess health across 5 domains; General Health Questionnaire (GHQ12) as a screening assessment for minor mental health problems

Who are we working with?


The SECURE study is a partnership including: 


How is the work funded?


The work is funded by the NIHR School for Social Care Research (SSCR)



Downloadable resources


More information




Programme Manager
Gill Rizzello 

Please complete the following form to download this item:

Once submitting your information you will be presented with a new 'Download' button to gain access to the resource.