Postgraduate research opportunities Dunhill Medical Trust Project 2: Exploration of Place and the Built Environment: support for independent living for Older People with Sensory Impairment

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Key facts

  • Opens: Friday 6 May 2022
  • Deadline: Sunday 26 June 2022
  • Number of places: 1
  • Duration: 36 months
  • Funding: Home fee, Equipment costs, Travel costs, Stipend

Overview

This PhD will involve the design of solutions to allow older adults with sensory impairment (hearing and/or visual) to navigate environments (e.g. their homes or healthcare facilities) safely and comfortably. It will take a user centred approach and will involve design, development and evaluation of a range of solutions.
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Eligibility

Candidates should have, or expect to achieve, a minimum 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK, in a relevant subject e.g. Candidates with a background in Architecture, Building Science or Engineering, are encouraged to apply. Others will be considered if additional experience is relevant and/or relevant work experience. Candidates should be highly motivated to undertake cutting edge research in this field.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

Older people are disproportionately affected by sensory impairment (SI) (hearing and/or visual) and  more likely to use multiple medicines and to live alone. Pharmaceutical care aims to promote the safe and effective supply and use of medicines.  Older people with SI (OPwSI) are at high risk of harm and therapeutic failure.  Healthcare settings, consultations and services need to support the complex needs of the growing number of older, community-dwelling citizens to facilitate their ability to live at home for as long as desired.  These Studentships present a novel opportunity to derive inter-disciplinary solutions, common challenges experienced by OPwSI and their pharmaceutical care.

Summary

This PhD will involve the design of solutions to allow older adults with sensory impairment (hearing and/or visual) to navigate environments (e.g. their homes or healthcare facilities) safely and comfortably. It will take a user centred approach and will involve design, development and evaluation of a range of solutions.

Following the COVID19 pandemic and the Hackett review of the Grenfell fire, new restrictions and challenges will arise in building and urban design. Cities need to change and adapt as will populations: things that we took for granted will no longer be possible or practical – from negotiating our highstreets, to inhabiting artificially conditioned spaces. Whilst the existing infrastructure will be central to our new normal, it is no longer fit for purpose in terms of ease of navigation and social distancing, particularly for people with sensory impairment. New and innovative ideas are needed to help us to adapt our existing infrastructure to make it resilient to future disruptors, including the large proportion of older people in society.

This proposal provides options that include navigating a healthcare and/or home environment, and the role of technology in assisting independent living, including how OPwSI currently access and experience consultations with their care givers e.g. pharmacists, general practitioners, specifically in relation to medicine management.  Much of the current research focus is on technological possibilities and not on the range and scope of environments in which these might be applied. Bringing together Architecture (and Urban Design) and Biomedical Engineering significantly broadens and deepens the research possibilities.

The RNIB currently supports a range of non-visual, electronic orientation aids to assist people with visual impairment to navigate indoor and outdoor spaces. These range from smartphone technologies to smart canes, smart/3D maps, bluetooth beacons and IoT (Internet of things)-enabled approaches that allow communication between various systems and technologies that can transfer data over a network without requiring any form of human or machine interactions [M1], but questions remain around how such technologies are perceived by and can support OPwSI.

The PhD will explore how OPwSI experience the built environment and how that experience could be improved and supported using simple, low-cost techniques, e.g. new ‘beacons’ for those with visual and/ or auditory impairment. This could involve how to support people in the navigation of spaces, and providing an environment where they feel safe and confident in managing their condition and in relation to medicine management, including healthcare environments and in their own homes. This is applicable to older people with a range of conditions such as sensory or cognitive impairment and mobility issues.

The work will build on existing research to support elderly people with cognitive and sensory impairment, using a range of novel and conventional approaches, to enable them to live independently for as long as possible.

Further information

This studentship is part of a cohort of four studentships called The Pansophy Cohort: Multidisciplinary solutions to age-related challenges of pharmaceutical care. The cohort is funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust.

Dunhill Medical Trust studentships:

These PhD studentships are part of a wider research programme, SIPA2 Project.  A bespoke Patient and Public involvement (PPI) group will be created for the purpose of supporting and advising the PhD cohort throughout the three-year period.  Funding is available to establish this group and included meeting attendance and preparation, travel and subsistence.  Additional funding is available to support annual PPI engagement events in addition to the engagement that will be undertaken as empirical elements of the individual projects.

The University of Strathclyde has an Age-friendly Academy the members of which will be invited to contribute to the development of the PhD projects and to consider participation in the PPI group if relevant i.e. the group will comprise representatives of OPwSI.

The PhD students would be expected to join the Strathclyde Ageing Network.

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Funding details

Each studentship is worth approximately £73,000 (including fees, stipends and support costs).

Funding towards:

  • Support (travel, equipment, etc) costs £3300/year
  • Home fee £4613/year
  • Stipend £15,999/year (increasing annually)

Please note that the studentship covers UK fees only. While non-UK applicants can apply, they need to specify in their documentation how they will fund the difference between the home UK and international fee rates.

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Supervisors

Professor Lori McElroy

Architecture

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Dr Mario Giardini

Senior Lecturer
Biomedical Engineering

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Professor Margaret Watson

Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

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Apply

Interviews will take place week commencing 4 July 2022.

Number of places: 1

This is studentship is part of a cohort of four studentships called The Pansophy Cohort: Multidisciplinary solutions to age-related challenges of pharmaceutical care. The cohort is funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust.

Candidates will be reviewed by the academic team running the Scheme and ranked in terms of fit to the PhD.

To read how we process personal data, applicants can review our 'Privacy Notice for Student Applicants and Potential Applicants' on our Privacy notices' web page.

Architecture

Programme: Architecture

PhD
full-time
Start date: Oct 2022 - Sep 2023

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Contact us

Dr Lori McElroy (lori.mcelroy@strath.ac.uk)