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Long-term care services in Ireland's rural areas: marketisation, privatisation

Geary Institute for Public Policy

About the Project

Relevant disciplines: social policy; public health; geography; sociology;


NOTE: This project is flexible--please contact us to discuss possibilities.

Ireland’s home care sector has undergone extensive marketisation and privatisation in recent years. Within this context, the project identifies the needs of farm households in relation to elderly care and communicate these to policy stakeholders involved in the development and implementation of forthcoming legislation establishing a statutory right to home care in Ireland.

This study identifies and assesses how farm households in Ireland organise home care through both “formal” or “informal” services in a context of marketisation and privatisation of home care services. It uses this knowledge to: (1) Enhance our understanding of the role of care arrangements in supporting generational renewal of farm enterprises; (2) Identify, assess and evaluate the needs of farm households and communicate these to relevant policy stakeholders; (3) Fill a substantial gap in the international literature on health care provision associated with informal care arrangements in rural areas; (4) Evaluate how market-based and privatised care services grow and develop (or not) in rural areas; (5) Assess the relevance of issues of gender and citizenship, as care services are delivered mostly by women and a significant number of immigrants. Methodologically, the project develops a mixed methods approach involving: (1) Spatial analysis of HSE data and interviews with HSE and private home care actors to evaluate patterns of service provision and growth; (2) Design, implementation and analysis of a survey identifying home care strategies adopted by farm households; (3) Interviews with farm households to assess the ways in which they organise care, in particular informal care, and the challenges they face.

The project is flexible and open to changes of emphasis depending on the student’s interests and background, which will be discussed at interview stage and at the beginning of the project.


Applicants will have, or expect to obtain an excellent grade in a relevant degree (e.g. sociology, geography, public health, politics, economics, etc.). Interest in issues of marketisation, privatisation and political economy is a key asset. The successful candidate will register with the School of Geography, University College Dublin for a 4-year PhD degree. Candidates should be highly self-motivated and be prepared for periods of fieldwork.


The fellowship funding is €24,000 per annum and includes University fees of up to a maximum of €6,000 per annum or approximately €9,000 p.a. (non-EU students), and is tenable for 4 years. Regular reviews will assess progress. The Walsh Scholarship is a joint research project between Teagasc and the National University of Ireland, at Dublin. The student will be jointly located between Teagasc (Ashtown) and UCD work under the supervision of Dr. Julien Mercille, School of Geography, and Prof Jim Kinsella, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, with Teagasc supervisors (Dr. David Meredith, Dr. Emma Jane Dillon).


Further Information/Applications

For further information please contact Dr David Meredith, or Dr Julien Mercille, .

Application Procedure

Submit an electronic copy of a CV and a short research/personal statement and names and contact details of two referees, by email to:

Dr. Julien Mercille       

Dr. David Meredith      

Funding Notes

The fellowship funding is €24,000 per annum and includes University fees of up to a maximum of €6,000 per
annum or approximately €9,000 p.a. (non-EU students), and is tenable for 4 years. Regular reviews will assess

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