Social workers report higher stress levels

An increased number of social workers in Wolverhampton say their case loads are not manageable and that staff stress levels are higher, a survey of the council’s workforce has revealed.

Wolverhampton Civic Centre. Photo: Google
Wolverhampton Civic Centre. Photo: Google

Following a health check carried out annually to assess the wellbeing of social workers in the city, a report to the council has revealed a rise in the number saying they are “just about” managing.

A report to the council’s adult and safer city scrutiny panel, which is due to discuss the findings next week, adds that the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to have had an impact on the outcomes.

The health check was circulated to staff via an online survey between November 2 and December 14 last year. All registered social workers, including student social workers, were invited to take part.

“The survey was distributed to 126 adult social workers. There were 65 respondents to the survey – 52 per cent.

“This is lower than last year’s response rate of 65 per cent, which is likely due to the impact Covid has had this year and the challenges teams have experienced and continue to face,” says the report.

“There has been an increase this year in the number of social workers who said that their workloads are not manageable and there has also been a rise in the number saying they are ‘just about’ managing.

“It is recognised that this year’s responses may have been affected by the unique circumstances experienced this year due to the pandemic.

“This has included increases in demand and staffing issues in some teams, as well as more general feelings of fatigue, isolation and the ongoing challenges associated with working from home and balancing other commitments.

“Stress levels are slightly higher this year with just over 50 per cent of respondents saying they always or often felt stressed compared to 45 per cent in 2019,” adds the report.

“Full-time workers are working an average of 4.2 hours over their contracted hours compared to 2.4 hours in 2019. However, part-time workers are working an average of 2.4 hours over their contracted hours – a significant decrease from 2019 when they worked 10.3 hours over.”

The report also reveals that some respondents had said they were struggling to work from home and felt isolated by not being with their colleagues and having face-to-face support.

Council chiefs are currently looking at access to hubs/office spaces to help alleviate these extra pressures.

A council spokesman said: “The health and wellbeing of our workforce is a priority for the council. Covid has had an impact on the overall health of the workforce, as evidenced by stress levels reported.

“Senior managers are aware of the impact this has on workers and continue to support the wellbeing of the workforce in balancing their work and personal circumstances.”

The council’s adult and safer city scrutiny panel will discuss the findings of the report next Tuesday.

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