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Effective Voice using a digital engagement platform to achieve fair work in elder social care

   School of Health in Social Science

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  Prof Heather Wilkinson, Prof Lynne Corner  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 explore if and how a digital public engagement platform can support frontline social care staff in residential and domiciliary care for older people in (i) finding a collective voice and entering into effective dialogue with and across the sector, (ii) to explore if and how this improves working conditions and related policy, and (iii) can support moves toward establishing a professional social care workforce.  


To document and understand the current problems being faced by the post-working age residential and domiciliary care sector, including those related to staffing, and how the sector’s problems are impacting attempts to meet the healthy ageing challenge.

To engage frontline staff in the project and VOICE (building on work started by Healthy Working Lives, an ACRC-affiliated project)

To work collaboratively (e.g., using co-design approaches) with a cohort of frontline staff to explore how the digital platform might be used most effectively to achieve a collective voice and a sense of collective efficacy

To work collaboratively with frontline staff and wider stakeholders to explore if and how such engagement can support a professional social care workforce


Elder social care is in crisis, and recruiting and retaining staff has become a major challenge. Scotland’s Fair Work Convention, which advises the Scottish Government on workforce issues, suggests that staff wellbeing and organisational performance are likely to improve if the workforce feels it has an “effective voice” in dialogues about workplace issues. This collaborative research project will work with frontline care staff, care providers, local and national policymakers and VOICE (a network community concerned with driving innovation in ageing) to investigate how the VOICE digital engagement platform might help care staff to explore and build their collective voice, enabling them effectively to contribute to addressing sectoral challenges and progress professionalisation and respect in social care. 


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:
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Please apply here:
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Fair Work Convention,
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