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Socially Assistive Robots to Support Unpaid Carers wellbeing

   Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics

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  Dr Carolina Fuentes Toro, Dr L Turner, Prof Carlos Cifuentes  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Unpaid carers provide non-medical care to people who suffer from long-term diseases or disabilities. This role is highly demanding, causing a multidimensional impact on the caregiver's life. Unpaid carers are mostly women, affecting strongly low-income populations and increasing inequality. The caregiving effect is a major social public issue, affecting 6.8 million people in the UK, 43.5 million in the USA, and unknown numbers in Latin America. Due to the complexity of caregiving tasks, unpaid carers present high levels of financial and emotional stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and poor physical health. Digital technologies bring the opportunity to support unpaid carers' wellbeing; however, these technologies may increase burden levels if they do not consider the care context and their experiences as users, impacting long-term engagement.

 The project aims to explore emerging technologies, particularly socially assistive robots and IoT, to understand what interactions and social signals are the most appropriate to respond and adapt to carer's needs to increase wellbeing support mediated by technology. Following a user-centred approach, this project will design a behavioural model that integrates trust, burnout assessment and copying strategies for self-help to provide personalised interactions with socially assistive robots and IoT.

We will focus this project on socially assistive technologies for unpaid carers of older adults, people who suffer long-term chronic illnesses, and carers of palliative care patients. This project involves mixed methods, co-creative design workshops, scenario design, and cultural probes as multiple techniques for elicitation studies. The information collected will support prototype design, development and deployment of a behavioural model integrated within the technology to further evaluate with unpaid carers, older adults and relevant stakeholders. The system developed may incorporate monitoring the older adult's state and finding methodologies to support the care of the user via assistive technology.

Project Highlights:

  • Follow a user-centred design approach to understand the unpaid care context and identify the technological practices, digital literacy levels and burnout/isolation levels of unpaid carers in the UK.
  • Identify the most suitable multimodal interactions and social signals according to the unpaid care context.
  • Apply co-creative design workshops, scenario design, and cultural probes as multiple techniques for eliciting information that will support the design, prototype and deployment of interaction with socially assistive technologies to support unpaid carers' wellbeing.
  • Evaluate socio-technical prototypes designed with unpaid carers, care receivers and their support networks to identify key insights and design guidelines within the scope of human-centred robot interactions.
  • Develop case studies with caregivers and older adults to study the impact of incorporating assistive robotics in-home care.

Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Human-robot interaction, Socially assistive robots, pervasive healthcare, unpaid carer, informal caregiver, wellbeing, autonomous systems, multimodal interaction, ubiquitous technology.

Contact for information on the project: Carolina Fuentes , [Email Address Removed]

Note: Applicants are expected to write their own research proposal building on this project description and they are highly encouraged to contact the supervision team for formative feedback ahead of the deadline.

Academic criteria: A 2:1 Honours undergraduate degree or a master's degree, in computing or a related subject. Applicants with appropriate professional experience are also considered. Degree-level mathematics (or equivalent) is required for research in some project areas. 

Applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate proficiency by obtaining an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each skills component. 

How to apply:  

Please contact the supervisors of the project prior to submitting your application to discuss and develop an individual research proposal that builds on the information provided in this advert. Once you have developed the proposal with support from the supervisors, please submit your application following the instructions provided below 

Please submit your application before the application deadline 13th March 2023 via Computer Science and Informatics - Study - Cardiff University 

In order to be considered candidates must submit the following information:  

  • Supporting statement  
  • CV  
  • In the ‘Research Proposal’ section of the application enter the name of the project you are applying to and upload your Individual research proposal, as mentioned above in BOLD 
  • In the funding field of your application, insert “I am applying for 2023 PhD Scholarship in Computer Science and Informatics”, and specify the project title and supervisors of this project in the text box provided. 
  • Qualification certificates and Transcripts 
  • References x 2  
  • Proof of English language (if applicable) 

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact [Email Address Removed] 

Funding Notes

A School-Funded PhD Scholarship is available for entry 2023/24.
In the Funding field of your application, insert "I am applying for 2023 PhD Scholarship" and specify the project title and supervisor of this project in the fields provided.
This project is also open to Self-Funded students worldwide. If you are interested in applying for a Self-Funded PhD, please search FindAPhD for this specific project title, supervisor or School within its Scholarships category

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