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Doctoral student writing

Cutting edge digital transformation in adult social care – evidencing and evaluating new initiatives

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Starting: 2021
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / Fully-funded


Cutting edge digital transformation in adult social care – evidencing and evaluating new initiatives

This is an exciting opportunity to undertake a fully funded PhD as a joint initiative between the strategic research theme in health and wellbeing at NTU led by Professor Di Bailey and Peopletoo, an organisation working as a transformation partner with over 100 local government organisations in the UK to deliver change in services for vulnerable people.

The project will be realised through a 3-year doctoral training opportunity that will:

  • discover new knowledge about cutting edge digital transformation being used in adult social care,
  • use a case study approach to describe how such transformation is being implemented across the UK and beyond,
  • evaluate implementation in 1-2 pilot sites to inform a model for measuring and supporting digital readiness in the sector to enable change at scale.

Digital transformation is further ahead in some parts of the UK than others and there are lessons to be learned from other countries. It is intended that the PhD will be structured as follows:

  • Year 1 – Scoping Study including project refinement and approval, review of the literature/evidence, case examples of good practice and key informant interviews with cutting edge providers in the UK and beyond.
  • Year 2 – Comparative Case Study including data gathering and field work to describe transformation in up to 10 sites, and conduct cross-case analysis to identify key success factors, and logic models for digital readiness.
  • Year 3 – Process and Impact Evaluation Pilot – in 1-2 pilot sites building on data collected in year 2.

The project will be supported by the Smart Wireless, Innovation Facility (SWIFT) on the Clifton Campus at NTU and will be Co-supervised by Eiman Kanjo in the School of Science and Technology. This will support the development of technological solutions in partnership with the case study sites as appropriate to enable the project to progress in accordance with the agreed milestones.

Digital transformation can encompass any of the following:

  • e-health technology such as telecare and apps to optimise monitoring of diagnosed conditions and medication compliance, that feature in care plans/packages and support citizens to live well at home and in their communities
  • e- information for example telehealth, that citizens can access to better inform them about their social care and health needs and where to get support
  • internet enabled therapies for example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for symptoms of common mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety
  • apps to support social contacts, networks and reduce loneliness
  • electronic health records that are held and shared between social care/health professionals and in the future will be held and accessed by citizens
  • digitised communication between social care and health professionals, teams and services; ultimately supported by shared platforms/gateways that facilitate accessibility

The review of the literature and key informant interviews for example with transformation leads and digital providers will deliver an overview of cutting-edge digital transformation and ways in which this is being used in different settings and with different groups within the older adult population.

The comparative case study design will utilise mixed methods (either qualitative and quantitative or mix of qualitative methods as appropriate) to discover new knowledge about the key facilitators and barriers to digital transformation and readiness for implementation. The details of the methods will be finalised during project approval in months 1-4 of the study.

The pilot evaluation will draw on real time implementer sites where these are identified from the case studies. These sites will have associated implementation plans that can be accommodated within the timeframe of the study. The process and impact evaluation will utilise mixed methods within the realist evaluation paradigm to support the discovery of a theory of change for the interaction between digital readiness and transformation.


Bailey, D., Holland, D. and Mutale, G., 2017. Evaluation of the social care role in integrated primary care teams for older adults who have complex needs in Nottinghamshire. Nottingham: Nottingham Trent University.

Bailey, D. and Mutale, G. (in press) Social work’s contribution to integrated primary health care teams in the UK for older adults with complex needs. Submitted to Journal of Social Work and Health.

Entry qualifications

Entrants must meet NTU requirements for doctoral study.

In addition, entrants must have as a minimum:

  • Previous experience of writing for academic and other audiences ideally through published outputs and/or research reports
  • Previous research experience ideally as a Research Assistant or obtained through qualifications
  • A good working knowledge/and or experience of adult social care in the UK
  • Demonstrable understanding of digital technologies and how these are utilised in the UK health and social care sector.

Experience of working in adult social care and use of digital technologies in other countries may be considered if applicants can demonstrate a clear plan for how they would get up to speed with this in the UK context.

How to apply

The application deadline for this fully-funded PhD project is Friday 9 April 2021 at 11.59 pm. Interviews will take place shortly after.

For further information on how to apply, please see our application page.

Fees and funding

This is a fully-funded PhD.

Guidance and support

Further information on guidance and support can be found on our application page.

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