Funded Studentship Qualitative Study of Participant Experiences of Assistive Technology and Telecare to Maintain Independent Living At Home for People with Dementia (ATTILA)


26th April 2013. Available for 1st October 2013 start. 

Supervisory Team:

Primary: Dr Fiona Poland

The Project:

Assistive technology (AT) and telecare are new ways of delivering support to people with social care needs. This project aims to examine the experiences of delivering this through rigorous in-depth qualitative enquiry.  The provision of sensors, passive monitoring and alerting devices are claimed to support the independence of this group of people, to reduce the caregiver burden, community care costs, admissions to hospital or into long term institutional care.  The current economic situation has stimulated increasing numbers of local authorities in England to seek to provide telecare to extend limited community care. However, the current evidence base for the impact and effectiveness of AT/telecare is limited and people with dementia as a group were excluded from the Whole System Demonstrator research programme.  ATTILA is a major NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme-funded (£2M) randomised controlled trial, starting in November 2012 to compare outcomes amongst people with dementia living in domiciliary setting who receive AT/telecare with those who only receive equivalent community services.  This PhD study will inform and complement the main ATTILA project in which all supervisory team members are Co-Investigators, with Dr Poland leading the qualitative component. A qualitative, participative approach will be used to provide thematic and narrative findings from early and later experiences of participants in the study (for people with dementia, their family carers and professionals supporting them).  These will be used to inform, contextualise and assess the acceptability and impact of engaging with assistive technologies for engaging stakeholders in the service development process, and more robustly conceptualizing processes of technological diffusion and experiential impact within community care partnerships in dementia. The PhD student, under the supervision of Dr Fiona Poland, Dr Chris Fox and Professor Stan Newman (City University), will collect data (repeated observational, interview or focus group) from a diverse sub-group of participants in sites in Suffolk, Cambridge and Southwark, 6 months after being offered the opportunity to use the equipment.  The resulting longitudinal qualitative prospective dataset will provide a distinctive methodological and conceptual contribution to inform the implementation and delivery of this important research programme. Its findings will also complement a further, final stage cross-sectional qualitative study of caregivers reflections as well as the quantitative findings of the acceptability and effectiveness of the AT/telecare equipment.

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Entry Requirements:

Applicants should hold a 2:1 degree or above or a master’s degree in science, social science or health-related subject or equivalent.

Applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate evidence English language proficiency, normally defined as a minimum IELTS overall score of 7.5 (7.0 in all elements) or equivalent.


Due to funding restrictions funding is available for UK/EU students covering an annual stipend £13,726, annual fees at £3,900 and an annual research training support grant of £1,000 for three years. International students may apply but will have to fund the difference in international fees.

Making Your Application:

Please apply via the University’s online application system. To discuss the application process or particular projects, please contact the: Admissions Office, email: or telephone +44 (0)1603 591709.

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