Home care is any type of care service provided to persons in their own homes consisting of assistance with daily living, household and health care. It is an alternative to stationary care in many cases and the demand for home care is increasing. Home care is performed by nurses with different qualification levels. Already today, the sector deals with a shortage of trained professionals and the shortage is expected to become more severe in the future. Factors such as unattractive schedules and high workload lead to low job satisfaction and high nurse turnover. Health care institutions should pay attention to these factors in their planning and scheduling.
Therefore, this PhD project will take a nurse-centric view in planning and scheduling for home care applications. The complexity of the planning problem is challenging, since it combines routing (to determine the routing of nurses to the homes of the clients) and scheduling (labour law and work contract characteristics of the nurses). The aim of this PhD project is to develop advanced solution approaches to tackle the planning problem while paying special attention to the nurse satisfaction. The solution approaches will be based on methods such as mixed-integer linear programming, stochastic programming and metaheuristics to optimize the routes and schedules. Further tasks include the prototypical implementation of and computational experimentation with the methods as well as discussion with relevant stakeholders to ensure the quality and acceptance of the proposed methods.
The successful applicant will join the Industrial Engineering and Business Information Systems (IEBIS) section of the High-tech Business & Entrepreneurship Department (HBE) at the Faculty of Behavioural Management and Social Sciences (BMS).
During the project, the PhD candidate will perform research on the following tasks:
- Develop advanced scheduling models and algorithms for home care applications including factors important to nurse satisfaction;
- Investigate different optimization goals and planning horizons and their impact on the scheduling;
- Adapt and extend employee satisfaction criteria from other application areas to home care applications;
- Validate solution quality and reasonable runtimes of the scheduling methods through extensive analysis;
- Engage with home care providers and their employees to define requirements, get feedback and ensure acceptance and feasibility;
- Incorporate uncertainty into the decision-making models by developing stochastic optimization approaches where necessary.
As a doctoral student, your key responsibilities will be to manage and carry out research projects within 48 months and write a PhD thesis. You will participate in research and training activities and disseminate research in the scientific community (international conferences) and non-scientific community by outreach and public engagement.
Furthermore, you will write articles for scientific peer-reviewed journals and progress reports and prepare results for publication and dissemination via public lectures, presentations, and the web.
You will also be responsible for taking courses per the research education and liaising with the other research staff, students, and partner institutions working in broad areas relevant to the research project.
Participation in other department duties, such as meetings, teaching, etc., is expected to cover a maximum scope of 20%.