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The impact of Covid-19 on older individuals: A call for Gerontological Social Work (GSW)


   Institute for Lifecourse Development

  Dr P Pentaris  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The proposed project aims to explore how Covid-19 and the associated measures – particularly quarantine measures – have impacted on the lived experiences of older individuals, and based on that, how Gerontological Social Work (GSW) can lend its specialist skills and knowledge to responding to the many challenges arisen from these experiences.

When Covid-19 was first recorded in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, the world’s population and national Governments across the globe did not anticipate the extend to which the virus might spread, the risks it will pose, and the socio-politico-economic costs of this virus. On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Covid-19 to be a global pandemic, one which requires systemic and collective efforts to overcome. Once the pandemic spread and human life was threatened on levels that, in the contemporary world, we had not seen before (in terms of its scale and scope), Governments continuously responded to the ever-growing and novel needs that emerged. Quarantine measures, and other faculties that emerged to regulate social life in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, came to confine individuals into a more isolated and physical distant environment; one which only became bearable with the use of technology. Further, different measures started applying to different parts of the population, separating those who may be of higher risk of contracting and dying of the virus, and applying stricter regulations. Pre-existing health conditions like cancer, organ failures, cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses seemed to be at the forefront of those who may be at high risk. Yet, and as expected given the prevalence of physical health with older age (Sutin et al., 2015), older individuals, particularly those aged 70 and over, faced a wider and more impactful reality than their counterpart younger fellow citizens of any given nation.

Covid-19 and all associated measures radicalised older individuals’ experiences (Chen et al., 2020), while Government initiatives, albeit good intentions, seemed to systemically oppress and often homogenise older individuals (Pentaris et al., 2020). This part of the population has not only been clustered, once again (Sutin et al., 2015), as frail and collateral, but also not placed in any priority agendas until later into the pandemic – perhaps July 2020 onwards (Pentaris et al., 2020). Challenges such as digital poverty, isolation, social exclusion, homogenisation, lack of access to health services, exacerbation of mental health illnesses, lack of staff in care homes and lack of family contact due to reasons aforementioned, led to a currently complex and concerning circumstance, which will need further attention moving forward.

This project aims to explore how Covid-19 and the associated measures have impacted on the lived experiences of older individuals, and based on that, how Gerontological Social Work (GSW) can lend its specialist skills and knowledge to responding to the many challenges arisen from these experiences.

The project is a case study, and it will employ a mixed methods approach. The sample will include approximately 1000 frontline staff members (survey), 15 x interviews with senior management members of care homes and similar facilities, and 15 x interviews with older individuals. The project is scheduled to be completed in the space of three years, inclusive of writing up.

If you would like to discuss this opportunity and the PhD project before applying, please contact Dr. Panagiotis Pentaris (Associate Professor of Social Work and Thanatology) .

Duration: 3 years Full-Time Study or 6 years Part-Time Study.

Type: Self-Funded.

How to Apply:

Please read this information before making an application. Information on the application process is available at: 

https://www.gre.ac.uk/research/study/apply/application-process

Applications need to be made online via this link. No other form of application will be considered. Please submit your application under the PhD Human Sciences programme. All applications must include the following information. Applications not containing these documents will not be considered:

• A research proposal (about 1500 words) related to the subject topic *

• A CV including 2 referees * (one ideally being from a dissertation supervisor)

• Personal statement outlining the motivation for this PhD and this particular project

• Academic qualification certificates/transcripts and IELTs/English Language certificate if you are an international applicant or if English is not your first language or you are from a country where English is not the majority spoken language as defined by the UK Border Agency *

*upload to the qualification section of the application form. Attachments must be a PDF format.

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