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Cobots: Understanding the implementation of collaborative robots in health and social care.

University of Southampton - School of Health Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Southampton
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: From £15,609 annual maintenance grant, plus payment of programme fees
Hours: Full Time, Part Time
Placed On: 16th November 2021
Closes: 24th January 2022
 

Cobots: Understanding the implementation of collaborative robots in health and social care.

Overview - This project is a fully funded studentship awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP) commencing in 2022/23 Academic Year.

A collaboration between the University of Southampton, Hampshire County Council and a robotics company, Cyberdyne. The project will see academics from occupational therapy, biomechanics and social sciences, working with care managers from Hampshire County Council. This will involve multidisciplinary working, and involve consultation with the public, care workers and the robotics developer.

Proposed Supervisors:

School of Health Sciences

1) Dr James Gavin (j.p.gavin@soton.ac.uk)

2) Dr Martin Warner (m.warner@soton.ac.uk)

Application Deadline – 24th January 2022

Background - ‘Cobots’ are robotic exoskeletons that are worn around the lower back and actively support people in moving objects or supporting others. Care workers often undertake strenuous physical activity, like moving patients, and are at risk of musculoskeletal injury, preventing them from performing their duties. Cobots can help limit the injury risk by reducing the effort and forces required for moving and handling.  The care workforce is regionally facing challenges, with rising demand (in greater care burden) and recruitment difficulties. Cobots are an assistive technology, which could help reduce the demands facing the care workforce.

Project Overview - Cobots have recently been adopted by Hampshire County Council’s care services, in partnership with Japanese robotics developer, Cyberdyne. Cobots were initially deployed in care settings, and then in community settings during the Coronavirus-19 pandemic. Hampshire Council now aims to integrate Cobots into the wider programme of care, with large-scale deployment over the next few years. To support the Council’s aims, this PhD programme will help determine:

  1. What is the current evidence of the effectiveness of Cobots in health and social care settings (systematic review)?
  2. What are the perspectives and experiences of care workers using Cobots (qualitative research)?
  3. Development and validation of technology in residential and community settings
  4. What are the barriers and facilitators for accepting assistive technologies (particularly Cobots) in standard social care practice?
  5. What outcomes are important when measuring the effectiveness of Cobots for care workers?
  6. Assessing and validating key outcomes when using technology (e.g. Cobots) in social care practice (quantitative research)
  7. Monitoring Cobots use in clinical/community settings, through recording of adherence and the incidence of musculoskeletal injury.
  8. Case study: How did the concept of implementing a new technology (Cobots) emerge?
  9. What lessons can be learnt for the future?
  10. What guidelines can be developed for deployment in other County Councils?

Funding – The ESRC South Coast DTP Funding provides an annual maintenance grant (tax free) of £15609 (2021/22 UKRI rate), plus payment of programme fees.  Other funding available for SCDTP funded students can be found on the SCDTP website (www.southcoastdtp.ac.uk).

Funding is provided for 3 years full-time PhD study (pro-rata for part-time students).  Applications for 1+3 funding for students completing a Master's year prior to the commencement of PhD study are also welcome (details available at www.southcoastdtp.ac.uk).

Application Procedure

The closing date and time for applications is 4.00pm on 24th January 2022.  The full application procedure, the funding application form, and more information on the ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership can be found at: https://www.southcoastdtp.ac.uk/apply-cobots/

For further information about this project, please contact the lead supervisor detailed above.  For questions relating to the application procedure, or for more information about the SCDTP, please visit the SCDTP website or contact us at scdtp@soton.ac.uk

Project Enquiries - Dr James Gavin (j.p.gavin@soton.ac.uk)

Funding/Application Enquiries – scdtp@soton.ac.uk

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