Dr Paula McFadden

Senior Lecturer in Social Work

School of Applied Social and Policy Sc.

Magee campus

Room MA102,
BT48 7JL,

Institute for Research in Social Sciences

Senior Lecturer in Social Work

Dr Paula McFadden


Dr Paula McFadden is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Ulster University, with research interests on workforce wellbeing, resilience, and burnout. 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. 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.

View full results and publications 

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.

McFadden has collaborated with colleagues in Japan, on comparisons of workforce wellbeing and coping of social workers, nurses and social care workers in the UK and Japan (in older people residential care) during COVID-19 in both contexts during 2021. In addition to workforce research, McFadden is also interested in social work education and graduate preparation for social work practice. 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.

Dr 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. The first survey was lauched in 2020 and the second survey will launch in September 2023. This 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.

HSC Workforce Study

The Health and Social Care Workforce Study examines the health and social care workers' mental wellbeing and quality of working life during COVID-19

Research Opportunities