Professor Paula McFadden

Professor in Social Work

School of Applied Social and Policy Sc.

Derry~Londonderry campus

Room MA011,
BT48 7JL,

Institute for Research in Social Sciences

Professor in Social Work

Professor Paula McFadden


Professor Paula McFadden is a researcher and educator in Social Work at Ulster University, with research interests on workforce wellbeing, resilience, and burnout. Professor McFadden currently is working with the Department of Health Northern Ireland on the Safe Staffing in Social Work research study which will inform policy and legislative development of Safe Staffing law soon to emerge in Northern Ireland. Professor McFadden conducted a series of award winning UK wide research studies, examining burnout, workforce ageing in social work, and wellbeing.

In June 2020, McFadden was awarded funding by the Health and Social Care Board, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland to study ‘COVID-19: UK Health and Social Care Workforce Wellbeing and Coping’ over a 3 year period.

Full results and publications can be found on the Health and Social Care Workforce Research Study website.

This research informs employers, regulators, professional bodies, and service commissioners, about the key issues for workers and provides strategic guidance on what is needed to address workforce concerns relating to staff absence, turnover and retention.

In addition to workforce research, McFadden is also interested in social work education and graduate preparation for social work practice. Professor McFadden has collaborated with authors from international countries on social work regulatory comparisons including curriculum and practicum. During the onset of COVID-19, McFadden also collaborated with international social work educational providers, on rapid changes to admissions and education due to social distancing and lock down restrictions.

McFadden is also the founder and co-convenor of the Workforce Research Special Interest Group with ESRWA.

Professor McFadden is collaborating with the International Federation of Social Work (IFSW) and Bath Spa University on a global study of social work working conditions across international countries. This repeat time series survey is the first study to examine working conditions and wellbeing of social workers across the globe, enabling country specific information to inform governments, Non Goverment Organizations and service commissioners and regulators to take an informed approach to workforce and service planning.

Teaching Interests

Professor McFadden teaches at Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels at Ulster University. She is also part of a regional partnership between Ulster University and Queens University

Belfast, Praxis Care © and the Health and Social Care Board, Regional Social Work and Social Care Research Strategy, to develop an Open Access course for service user’s and carer’s involvement in research activities.

Professor McFadden is the program lead for the MSc in Research Methods for Social Work and Service Users at Ulster University.

Professor McFadden teaches on several undergraduate modules on the BSc Hons Degree in Social Work, on 'Resilience in Social Work Practice'. She has also specialist areas of teaching on Older People and Disability social work practice.

PhD Researcher Profile

Professor McFadden is supervising PhD students whose interests are related to social work workforce wellbeing and practice issues. Professor McFadden is currently supervising an interdisciplinary PhD student focusing on school based social work and the impact of this 'early intervention' approach on the wellbeing of children at risk of harm and entry to child protection systems.

She is also supervising a PhD candidate on use of creative methods to build resilience in social work students and inform the curriculum. Professor McFadden welcomes applications from potential PhD candidates who are interested in pursing research in the realms of social work workforce wellbeing and the practice areas outlined.