Sheffield Investigators

Prof Mark Hawley
Prof Luc de Witte
Prof Sue Yeandle


Zuyd University, Netherlands
University of Birmingham
Kings College London
Swansea University
University of Stirling
Ulster University
University of Alberta, Canada
Carers UK
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Population Ageing
University of Western Australia
University of Toronto, Canada
Ontario Shores University, Canada
Zhejiang University, China
University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
University of Auckland, New Zealand
University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Linnaeus University, Sweden
University of New South Wales, Australia
Macquarie University, Australia
McMaster University, Canada
Zittau-Goerlitz University, Germany
University of Vechta, Germany
Italian National Institute for Health and Ageing
Japan Institute for Labour Policy and Training
Japan Lutheran College
Bergen University, Norway
Jagiellonian University, Poland
University of Warsaw, Poland
National Research Council, Spain
National Yang Ming University, Taiwan
Care England
The Carers Resource
D Health Europe
Digital Care & Health Alliance
Employers for Carers
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Skills for Care;



With an ageing population, shortages of staff in home and residential care, and growing reliance on unpaid carers, the question of how to resource and deliver social care is a critical issue facing society today.

The Sustainable Care Research Programme, led by Professor Sue Yeandle from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Sociological Studies, and bringing together academics from seven universities, will take an international approach to identifying solutions to this crisis.

Working with an extended network of international academic partners in 15 other countries, the project will take a future-oriented and internationally comparative look at current approaches to the care needs of adults living at home with chronic health problems or disabilities, examining these in the context of care systems, care work and care relationships.

Researchers will investigate how these approaches can be made economically and socially sustainable while still delivering positive outcomes for care users, for families and carers and for care workers.

Profs Mark Hawley and Luc de Witte from CATCH will be investigating the potential of technology to be one of these solutions.  Two PhD studentships will be associated with this project.

PhD project 1: Technology for sustainable care at home: a future-oriented study
This will focus on exploring the potential role of technologies in the development of sustainable care systems, using a future oriented perspective and taking a broad view of advances in technology. Advanced technology offers promising solutions to the growing care gap, but the place of technology as a source of sustainability for the future is far from clear (1). This PhD will collect and analyse data relevant to the development of a roadmap for the future development of a specified technology (2). It will consider its potential for sustainable well-being in care at home, and address questions of practical, attitudinal and ethical acceptability as well as design and how the technology can be embedded into care systems and optimised to contribute to system sustainability. It will be part of the WPA3 work with stakeholders to identify technologies capable of addressing the needs of older people living at home.

Indicative research questions:

  • To what extent, and why, can the specified technology address challenges in supporting older people at home?
  • Does international evidence support the case for incorporating this technology into care systems?

(1) Marasinghe, K. M. (2016) ‘Assistive technologies in reducing caregiving burden among informal caregivers of older adults: A systematic review’, Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 11 (5): 353-60; Chi, N. C. & Demiris, G. (2015). ‘A systematic review of telehealth tools and interventions to support family caregivers’, Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 21(1): 37-44; Hogenbirk J, C., Liboiron-Grenier, L., & Pong, R. W. (2005) How can telehomecare support informal care? Examining what is known and exploring the potential: Final Report. Home and Continuing Care Policy Unit: Health Canada.

(2) Specific area negotiable, but likely to include aspects of robotics. Applicants for this PhD should identify an area or areas of interest which they wish to develop.

PhD student 2: Combining care and paid work for carers of people living with dementia; how can technology help?
This will explore the potential role of technologies in supporting the sustainable wellbeing of working carers (3), a group often facing tough choices between their work and care responsibilities (4). Technology holds the potential to support working carers in fulfilling their dual roles by supporting them in situations where they cannot be present, and with care co-ordination.

This PhD will identify and examine specific aspects of working carers’ roles amenable to intervention, select priority areas for support and explore how technologies can be assembled, modified or introduced to address these.

Indicative research questions:

  • What aspects of worker/carer roles are amenable to better co-ordination via use of technology?
  • In the specific priority areas selected, how and why are technologies used, with what effects on care relationships, wellbeing outcomes and carers’ capacity to fulfil both roles?
  • Could technology be better configured to support them, and are further innovations needed?

(3) ‘Working carers’ are people in paid employment who also provide care and support for a relative or friend with a longterm condition or disability, or who needs assistance in old age. (4) King, D. & Pickard, L. (2013) ‘When is a carer’s employment at risk? Longitudinal analysis of unpaid care and employment in midlife in England’, Health and Social Care in the Community, 21 (3): 303-314; Pickard, L. (2004) Caring for older people and employment: A review of the literature, London: Audit Commission; Yeandle, S., Bennett, C., Buckner, L., Fry, G. & Price, C. (2007) Managing Caring and Employment, CES Report No. 2, London: Carers UK