Jacob Sheahan, PhD

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Hi there, i’m a design researcher exploring our ageing and technology futures

Call for Papers: Special Issue on "Connecting Older Adults to the Digital World" ︎ 

Enhancing Networks of Care
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Edinburgh
2023 - Present

Focusing on supporting healthier and more resilient networks of care, this project investigates how we can enhance the practices, knowledge, and tools available in later life. With three core threads, I am exploring the role of community-led, service-enabled, and technology-driven care networks.

Project - Designing for Ecologies of Care in Later Life
Report (2023): CareTree Cultural Probe Study ︎
☞ Presentation (2024): Eliciting Networks & Ecologies of Care in Later Life ︎
Presentation (Upcoming): Exploring Generative Care Futures with Older Adults
Article (For Submission): Infrastructuring Networks of Care

Project - Developing Support Pathways with Caregivers
☞ Briefing (2023): Lessons from Engaging Informal Carers ︎
☞ Grant (2023-2024): Wellcome Trust iTPA Springboard Grant
☞ Presentation (Upcoming): Creating Alternative Pathways of Support for Older Informal Caregivers

Project - Improving Technology-supported Care Networks
☞ Presentation (Upcoming): Exploring Generative Postcard Futures with Older Adults

Designing for Social Engagement in Later Life
PhD Researcher
RMIT University
2019 - 2023

Designing social engagement technologies with older Australians, my doctorate demonstrated how modes of interpretative flexibility can support interaction designers in co-creating with ageing communities.

Long-COVID Patient Journeys
Research Assistant
RMIT University

Recognising the lack of understanding around the experiences of people with long-term, I supported a 3-month study mapping patients' experiences. This analysis highlighted the role of agency and social support in their lives. 

Worksafe by Design
Research Assistant
RMIT University
2021 - 2022

In collaboration with WorkSafe Victoria, I supported the Safeness by Design ︎ undergraduate studio to employ research and design innovation and provoke conversations around creating safer urban environments.

☞ Report (2022): Future of Work Report ︎
☞ Article (2022): Re-Imagining Industrial Design Education ︎
☞ Report (2021): Enabling an Ageing Workforce Report ︎
☞ Article (2022): Designing to Enable an Ageing Workforce ︎

Co-designing Participatory ICT Strategies With Older Adults
Research Assistant
RMIT University
2020 - 2022


Forthcoming Workshop
Designing with Friction: Troubling the Development of Seamless Digital Technologies.

Sheahan, J., Chatting, D., Collins., R., Bley, J., Eriksson, A., Rozendaal, M.C.,Taylor, N.

NordiCHI 2024, Uppsala, Sweden.
There is growing unease and a sense within the design community of the value placed on efficient, simplified, and seamless interactions, with a growing awareness and documentation of their unintended consequences across society. By prioritizing ‘frictionless’ finance, healthcare, education products, and services, there has been a consorted effort to reduce or eliminate our daily frictions in the pursuit of efficiency and ease of use. In seeking a more balanced understanding of friction in systems design, this workshop will offer ways of bringing friction to the fore of design and examining its role across the domains of care, privacy, security, repairability, and autonomous vehicles.

Forthcoming Paper
Navigating Mediated Kinship & Care Ageing-in-Place

Sheahan, J.

Journal of Anthropology and Aging
Nearly three decades after Marilyn Strathern suggested the implications of innovation at birth, today, we are also grappling with technology's impact on later life. As assemblages of technologies have become essential to how and to whom we care, today, we also struggle with a future seemingly trapped by present choice as techno-determinist dogma appears to bind our society. Beyond imaginaries of robotically assisted and real-time monitored ageing, I examine how these new forms of kinship can serve us in realising “desirable” futures with the depth and aspirations so many have for ageing-in-place.

Conference Proceeding, 2024
Eliciting Network & Ecologies of Care in Later Life

Sheahan, J., Wilson, C., Pschetz, L., Dixon, B., Vines, J.

Design4Health Conference, Sheffield
While a large body of research has documented people’s experiences of care in later life, very little of this work has explored the complex networks and entanglements of care people experience in old age. This study draws inspiration from the expanding use of care concepts like ecologies and entanglements to unravel complex care relations, offering valuable insights for design considerations. Sent to 18 older adults across Scotland, the probe encouraged reflections on daily life, leading to revelations about care expectations, preparedness, and meaningful design possibilities within caringscapes.

Journal Article, 2024
Playing with Persona: Highlighting older adults’ lived experience with the digital media ︎

Hjorth, L., Sheahan, J., Figueiredo, B., Martin, D., Aleti, T., Reid, M.,

Exploring perceptions and practices of technology use and risk to understand how cultural probes like personas can offer us ways to connect playfully to lived experience to inform future imaginaries. In this paper, we focus on the six co-design workshops in which we deployed personas as representations of digital experience to challenge, explore, provoke and help build nuanced tools for implementation.Through personas, speculative fiction, and lived experience, we provide ways to rethink digital media in increasingly ageing futures.

Conference Proceeding, 2024
Technology caregiving: collectively re-imagining informal networks of care ︎

Sheahan, J.

AGENET Conference, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
In recognising the many ways in which care is configured and manifests, technology support in later life has become a common type of informal caregiving that remains misunderstood. While the rise of ‘senior-friendly’ technology has come with an ageing population, these often provide their own challenges to older people, seen to limit and infantilise them,yet with the genral growth of digital healthcare applications, caregiving as design support has become a key aspect of informal caring. In examining the experiences of technology caregiving amongst older adults across Scotland, we highlight the potential intergenerational and maintenance qualities that these emergent forms of informal care provide.

I acknowledge the peoples on whose lands I conduct my work, and respectfully acknowledge  Ancestors and Elders, past, present and emerging.

©2024 Jacob Sheahan