Dr Denise Tanner

Dr Denise Tanner

Department of Social Work and Social Care
Senior Lecturer in Social Work

Contact details

Department of Social Work and Social Care
Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Denise Tanner is a Senior Lecturer on BA and MA Social Work courses.  Her areas of teaching and research interest include adult social work/social care policy and practice; social work with older people; social work skills; social perspectives of mental distress; and service user involvement in education and research. She has lead responsibility for Postgraduate Research students in the Department of Social Work and Social Care. 


  • PhD Social Work (University of Warwick, 2005)
  • Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Coventry University, 1998)
  • Certificate in Supervisory Management (Distinction) (Coventry University, 1995) 
  • M.Soc.Sc. Mental Disorder Studies (University of Birmingham, 1985)
  • BSc. Sociology (1st class) with Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (University of Bath, 1982)


  • Adult social work/social care policy and practice
  • Social work with older people
  • Relationship-based practice
  • Social work skills
  • Qualitative social research
  • Service user involvement in research

Postgraduate supervision

Denise Tanner's current doctoral supervision covers the following areas:

Social work decision-making in situations involving personalisation and the safeguarding of vulnerable adults
The abuse of older people within institutional care
Older people’s experience of compulsion under the Mental Health Act

Other activities

Denise is a member of British Society of Gerontology. She is also Trustee of a local care home. 


Recent publications


Willis, P, Lloyd, L, Hammond, J, Milne, A, Nelson-Becker, H, Perry, E, Ray, M, Richards, S & Tanner, D 2021, 'Casting light on the distinctive contribution of social work in multidisciplinary teams for older people', British Journal of Social Work, vol. 2021, no. 00, bcab004. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcab004

Tanner, D 2020, ''The love that dare not speak its name’: the role of compassion in social work practice', British Journal of Social Work, vol. 50, no. 6, pp. 1688–1705. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcz127

Allen, K, Needham, C, Hall, K & Tanner, D 2019, 'Participatory research meets validated outcome measures: tensions in the co-production of social care evaluation', Social Policy and Administration, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 311-325. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12468

Tanner, D 2018, 'Opening communicative space: what do co-researchers contribute?', Qualitative Research, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 292-310. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794118770076

Tanner, D, Ward, L & Ray, M 2017, '‘Paying our own way’: application of the capability approach to explore older people’s experiences of self-funding social care ', Critical Social Policy. https://doi.org/10.1177/0261018317724344

Tanner, D 2016, 'Sustaining the self in the 'fourth age': a case study', Quality in Ageing, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 157-167. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAOA-05-2015-0024

Littlechild, R, Tanner, D & Hall, K 2015, 'Co-research with older people: perspectives on impact', Qualitative Social Work, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 18-35. https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325014556791

Ray, M, Milne, A & Tanner, D 2015, 'Gerontological social work: reflections on its role, purpose and value', British Journal of Social Work, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 1296-1312. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bct195

Tanner, D, Littlechild, R, Duffy, J & Hayes, D 2015, '‘Making it real’: evaluating the impact of service user and carer involvement in social work education', British Journal of Social Work. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcv121

Lloyd, L, Tanner, D & Ray, M 2014, ''Look after yourself': active ageing, individual responsibility and the decline of social work with older people in the UK', European Journal of Social Work, vol. 17, no. 3, pp. 322-335. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2013.829805

Richards, S, Sullivan, MP & Tanner, D 2014, ''On the edge of a new frontier': Is gerontological social work in the UK ready to meet 21st century challenges?', British Journal of Social Work, vol. 44, no. 8, pp. 2307-2324. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bct082

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Tanner, D & Littlechild, R 2016, Enhancing older people's mental wellbeing through research: a case study. in C Chew-Graham & M Ray (eds), Mental Health and Older People: A handbook for primary care practitioners. Springer.


Tanner, D, Nelson-Becker, H, Lloyd, L, Milne, A, Perry, E, Ray, M, Richards, S & Willis, P 2020, Strengths-based social work with older people. in AN Menenhall & MM Carney (eds), Rooted in Strengths: Celebrating the strengths perspective in social work. University of Kansas, pp. 327-346.

Tanner, D, Ward, L & Ray, M 2020, Understanding the social care crisis in England through older people's lived experiences. in P Urban & L Ward (eds), Care ethics, democratic citizenship and the state. Springer, pp. 219-239.

Tanner, D 2019, Resilience and Older People. in N Thompson & G Cox (eds), Promoting Resilience: Responding to Adversity, Vulnerability, and Loss. Routledge, pp. 121-126.

View all publications in research portal