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The use of restrictive practices with people with diminished capacity in care settings

   School of Health in Social Science

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  Prof Heather Wilkinson, Dr T Russ, Dr Susan Shenkin  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.



We will explore the extent of restrictive practices – explicit and implicit; extraordinary and everyday — and the values underlying their use and justification as well as finding out what the experience of being restricted or observing these practices is like.


  • How widespread are restrictive practices involving people with diminished capacity (dementia or delirium) in care homes, general hospital wards, and psychiatric wards?
  • What values and attitudes do different groups of stakeholders have which justify or veto such practics?
  • What is the experience of being restricted like for someone with diminished capacity?
  • What is the emotional experience of being in a setting where restrictive practices are being used?
  • Can we form a framework of shared values to guide decisions about restrictive practices and when (if ever) it may be acceptable to use them? Legal frameworks will be relevant here but will not be the main focus of this research question which will be approached rather through the values of stakeholders


Restrictive practices involving people with diminished capacity (e.g., dementia or delirium) are extremely common in institutional settings including care homes, psychiatric wards, and the general hospital. Legally, this is an area of active debate and the legal and human rights position is not always adhered to in clinical practice. In this project, we will explore the extent of restrictive practices, explicit and implicit; extraordinary and everyday. We will investigate the values practitioners use to justify these practices and find out what the experience of being restricted or observing these practices is like. Finally, we will attempt to come to a framework of shared values about restrictive practices and their use with people with diminished capacity.


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:
Please apply here:
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