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Caring for the Carers: co-producing interventions to improve the self-reported health of unpaid carers.

   School of Health in Social Science

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  Dr S Lewis, Dr Andrew Kingston  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Advanced Care Research Centre (ACRC) is a new, multi-disciplinary, £20M research centre at the University of Edinburgh. The ACRC will lead society’s response to the grand challenge of an ageing population that is growing in size, longevity and needs through the pursuit of research intended to deliver “high‐quality data‐driven, personalised and affordable care to support the independence, dignity and quality‐of‐life of people living in their own homes and in supported care environments”

This project sits within the ACRC Academy , a dedicated Centre for Doctoral Training, co-located with the ACRC, whose students will deliver key aspects of the ACRC research agenda through a new doctoral-level research and training programme that will also equip them for careers across a wide range of pioneering and influential leadership roles in the public, private and third sectors.

The PhD with Integrated Study in Advanced Care is a novel, structured, thematic, cohort-based, programme of 48 months duration. Each PhD research project within the Academy has been devised by a supervisory team comprising academic staff from at least two of the three colleges within the University of Edinburgh. Each annual cohort of around twelve will include students with disciplinary backgrounds spanning from engineering and data science to humanities, social science, business and commerce, social work, medicine and related health and care professions. This unique level of diversity is a key attribute of our programme.



To work with older unpaid carers support/policy organisations, in areas of contrasting socioeconomic status, to (i) characterise their health (e.g., by drawing on epidemiological data) (ii) co-produce innovations/interventions to improve health, wellbeing and quality of life to improve health, wellbeing and quality of life and (iii) reduce the risk of need on health and social support. 


·  To produce quantitative analyses to support the research, e.g., characterise the health of carers who care and who they care for (e.g., using Dataloch).

·  To work collaboratively with carers and related policy and practice organisations to (i) understand caring in context (including contexts of inequality) to inform co-production processes

·  To work with carers and related policy and practice organisations to co-produce innovations/interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of carers and reduce their risk of becoming dependent themselves.

To explore collaboratively how to overcome barriers and facilitators to the implementation of innovations/interventions. 


Each year, unpaid carers save the UK £132 billion in social care costs, yet their health is often overlooked. Over half of carers are aged 55+, a third have been caring for 15 years or more, 60% report long-term conditions and almost two-thirds report difficulty carrying out day-to-day activities. This impacts significantly on quality of life, physical and mental health and increases the risks of carer dependency. In this mixed-method study, you will work closely with carers and carer support organisations (including in disadvantaged communities) to co-produce innovations and/or interventions for improving carer health and address barriers to implementation.


We are specifically looking for applicants who will view their cutting-edge PhD research project in the context of the overall vision of the ACRC, who are keen to contribute to tackling a societal grand challenge and who can add unique value to – and derive great benefit from – training in a cohort comprising colleagues with a very diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds. We advise prospective candidates to engage in dialogue with the named project supervisor and/or the Director of the Academy prior to submitting an application. 


We are running a rolling recruitment process. We will assess applications on a monthly basis, and will continue to do so until our places are filled. The next deadline is 31 March, which will then be moved to 31 April, then 31 May, if places are remaining. 

You must read How to apply prior to application

Please Apply here

Funding Notes

PhDs are funded with an enhanced stipend for the full 4 year period.
The call is open to candidates of any nationality but funded places for overseas nationals will be strictly limited to 4 international students who can apply for the highly competitive ACRC Global Scholarship.
It is essential to read the How to Apply section of our website before you apply:
Please apply here:


Carers First.
Carers UK. State of Caring Report 2021.
Munkejord, M.C., Stefansdottir, O.A. and Sveinbjarnardóttir, E.K., 2020. Who cares for the carer? The suffering, struggles and unmet needs of older women caring for husbands living with cognitive decline. HVL Open.
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