About the Project
Loneliness and social isolation are key concerns in the United Kingdom (UK), as evidenced by the launch of the UK Government’s first loneliness strategy, based on the view that loneliness is a public health risk . Evidence suggests that loneliness increases risk of premature mortality at a rate approximately in line with smoking or obesity . It is associated with a greater risk of frailty [3, 4], cardiovascular disease and stroke , depression , and cognitive decline and dementia [7, 8]. Thus, methods to reduce loneliness and social isolation are critical in managing public health.
Alertacall is a daily service that substantially increases person-to-person contact with older people and other groups, to confirm wellbeing. The service requires minimal installation, with devices plugging into a normal electrical or telephone socket. The organisation agrees times with the customer to confirm their wellbeing, once a day, or as often as desired. Confirmation is made by pressing an ‘OK’ button. If no ‘OK’ button is pressed the team makes contact to confirm wellbeing, and to exchange information, or just have a chat. Thus, the service provides as much or as little human contact as the customer wishes. If contact cannot be established the call is escalated to nominated contacts. The university and Alertacall will work together with partners, e.g. social housing providers, local authority social services teams, the NHS Innovation Agency, to identify individuals to participate in the research. The issues around health and other inequalities will be assessed throughout using the Health Inequalities Assessment Tool (www.hiat.org.uk), ensuring that inequalities are ameliorated, not exacerbated by the introduction of the tool.
This mixed-method (qualitative and quantitative methods used together) PhD studentship will combine mental health, ageing and technology research to determine the impact of the “Alertacall” daily contact services on wellbeing, including loneliness, depression and anxiety, and psychological resilience of older people living alone. The research will investigate specific features of the system to determine mechanisms that improve outcomes. This includes:
- Control over when to use the system each day, and how frequently
- Method of engagement (digitally or through human contact)
- Impact of the messaging service, which can provide reminders for medication, appointments, community activities etc.
- Impact of social prescribing messaging delivered by different methods e.g. video, audio, text
- Ability to escalate in the event of a deterioration in wellbeing
- Detecting longer term changes in health by analysing changes in patterns of engagement
1. What are the experiences of older people and informal carers (family/friends) of the use of traditional assistive technologies, such as the pendant alarm, and of the use of the Alertacall system?
2. What impact do the different aspects of the intervention have on older people living alone, in relation to assessments of:
• Mental health and wellbeing, loneliness
• Psychological resilience and coping strategies
• Quality of life
• Physical health
Usage of health and social care provision, and that of other potential commissioners.
For further information, please refer to our webpages. If you would like to be considered for this opportunity please contact the project supervisor including a covering letter, you CV and a fully completed research proposal (not more than 1000 words excluding references) related to the title you are applying for should be returned by email to [Email Address Removed] quoting the studentship reference number LUARC2021.
Due to funding restrictions, the studentships are open to Home/EU applicants only. It is expected the successful applicant (s) will
commence 1st February 2021.
CURRENT UNIVERSITY OF LANCASTER RESEARCH STUDENTS WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE TO APPLY FOR THE RESEARCH STUDENTSHIPS
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