THAW - Technology for Healthy Ageing and Well-being

Welcome to THAW

THAW is a project focused on developing technology to support good mental health in later life and aims to address some of the main challenges around improving mental health amongst the elderly by increasing availability and accessibility of technology for this segment of the population.

Projects and supervisors

The PhD students and their supervisors will form a network that will be run on a whole project model, whereby the whole team will meet regularly to discuss network progress and plan the future work. The students will also benefit from the University of Sheffield Doctoral Development Programme, which provides a cohesive training plan for cross-Faculty PhD students. The students will be located together and will interact with other CATCH researchers as well as students within the host departments. The students will be encouraged to present their findings at national and international conferences and to publish in high-quality, international journals.

The three interrelated projects will generate results and outputs that will have a lasting and significant impact on the provision of mental health support for the ageing population.

Using technology to improve early detection.

The first project will focus on the development of new technologies to identify the early signs of mental health problems in older adults at high risk. Machine learning approaches will be applied to data collected from high-risk individuals to identify patterns in behaviour and develop algorithms for detecting significant changes that indicate the onset of mental health problems

PhD Student:

Jacob Andrews


Prof Arlene J. Astell, CATCH & School for Health and Related Research (ScHARR)

Prof Robert Harrison, Automated Control and Systems Engineering

Understanding social isolation in a connected society

The second project will explore the challenges of social isolation and loneliness in the ageing population at a time of unprecedented connectivity within society at large. The role technology can play in engaging an older audience to overcome this problem will also be examined.

PhD Student:

David Clayton


Prof Alan Walker, School of Sociological Studies

Dr Peter Cudd, School for Health and Related Research (ScHARR)

Affective computing to support good mental health in later life.

This project will examine the user requirements for developing and delivering new tailored digital interventions to older people in their own homes. Affective computing and gamification will provide a framework for making online and other digitally delivered interventions more user-friendly and acceptable, which is particularly important for older users.

PhD Student:

Matthew Bennion DipHe BEng (Hons) MSc


Dr Abigail Millings, CATCH & Department of Psychology

Dr Daniela Romano, Department of Computer Science