Unpaid carers: Burnout Tracking through Multimodal Interaction [Self-Funded Students Only]

   Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics

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  Dr Carolina Fuentes Toro, Dr Katarzyna Stawarz, Dr N Verdezoto Dias  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Unpaid carers provide non-medical care to people who suffer long-term diseases or disabilities. This role is highly demanding and time consuming, causing a multidimensional impact on the caregiver's life. In particular women are the most responsible for the majority of caregiving duties especially impacting women who are illiterate and from low-income status/population, increasing or contributing to gender inequalities. The effect of being an unpaid carer is a major social issue, affecting 6.8 million people in the UK, 43.5 million in the USA, and particularly high numbers in other LMICs with limited reported data. Due to the complexity of caregiving tasks, unpaid carers present high levels of financial and emotional stress, depressive symptoms, and poor physical health. Digital technologies bring the opportunity to support unpaid carers' wellbeing.

The project aims to understand interaction modalities with technology to increase effective caregiver’s wellbeing support as a minority underrepresented group. This project will help to collect information that unpaid carers already generate when they use technology (e.g., their mobile phone use – if they have it – can be a source of data; the information shared through social network sites). This will help to understand how technology can be better designed to support carers' burnout without increasing workload. We want to investigate how burnout is currently tracked using technology (mobile, tangible, ambient or SSNs as Facebook, Twitter, or similar where support groups spaces are used as spaces of mutual support), create comparative cases on different unpaid carers and the impact of digital literacy level.

It will follow a user-centred design approach, to understand the unpaid care context identifying appropriate technologies for each case. Using design ethnography, the information collected will support prototype design and deployment of tools to evaluate with unpaid carers.

This project will allow it to define specific areas to cover related to the unpaid care context, particularly on:

·      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 interaction modalities according unpaid carers situations to promote resilience and wellbeing.

·      Apply design ethnography for eliciting information that will support the design, prototype and deployment of tools and Emerging Technologies that support unpaid carers wellbeing

Evaluate socio-technical prototypes designed with unpaid carers and member of their support networks.

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

This project is accepting applications all year round, for self-funded candidates via https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research/programmes/programme/computer-science-and-informatics 

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
  • Qualification certificates and Transcripts
  • Proof of Funding. For example, a letter of intent from your sponsor or confirmation of self-funded status (In the funding field of your application, insert Self-Funded)
  • References x 2 
  • Proof of English language (if applicable)

For more information about the project, please contact: Dr Carolina Fuentes Toro,

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact 

Funding Notes

This project is offered for self-funded students only, or those with their own sponsorship or scholarship award.


[1] Campos, et.al. Perceptions on Connecting Respite Care Volunteers and Caregivers.2020
[2] Abarca, et.al Perceptions on technology for volunteer respite care for bedridden elders in Chile. 2019
[3] Fuentes, et.al. Promoting Self-Reflection of Social Isolation Through Persuasive Mobile Technologies: The Case of Mother Caregivers of Children With Cancer.2018
[4]. Fuentes, et.al, "New Directions for the IoT: Automate, Share, Build, and Care.2019.

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