Mainstreaming Assistive Living Technologies (MALT)


This research was funded by a grant from the Assisted Living Innovation Platform with support from the Technology Strategy Board (Innovate UK) and the Economic and Social Research Council (refs 2400-25148 and TS/J00 0019/1).

Project background

The pressure to innovate services is felt heavily in the healthcare sector. An increasing, and ageing population, combined with a rise in people living with chronic diseases has led to increased demand on already constrained public healthcare resources around the western world. This continues to push such organizations to make difficult decisions about how to optimise, and where to invest.

In this research, we explored the potential of assistive living technologies (ALTs) as an opportunity for investment within the UK’s National Health Service. Adopting an action research methodology we sought to understand the barriers and facilitators for mainstreaming ALTs, by studying their use across four NHS sites.

Research Overview

The MALT project was awarded £1.2m, and was a multi-partnered, multi-disciplinary project which considered the barriers and facilitators of mainstreaming assistive living technologies in the UK’s National Health Service.

The work brought together researchers multi-disciplinary consortium of researchers and technology industry experts from Universities of Leeds, Sheffield, and Manchester, and the Advanced Digital Institute delivered the project.

The overall aim of this programme of research was to identify, explore and seek to overcome the key barriers to delivering telehealth at scale within four sites in the Yorkshire and Humber region. There were four main workstreams within the project: 

1. Patient acceptance

2. Staff adoption and implementation

3. Business and organizational modelling

4. Financial modelling.

At Leeds our work focused on the third workstream, and in particular the relationship between business models and service delivery. Our research highlighted the interdependence between these aspects, and demonstrated the knock-on effects that new technologies have on other aspects of the wider socio-technical system. Our work explored the implications that ALTs had on the design of work systems, teams, and overall service delivery.

Key findings

Key findings, and free resources, including ‘myth buster’ factsheets and videos of ALTs in action, are available on the MALT project webpage.

We are always keen to apply our research findings to new problems and research domains, so if you think that this research could be of value to your area of work, please get in touch.


This project continues to demonstrate impact across the four healthcare sites that we studied. Some of the early impact from the Leeds aspects of the research is summarised in:

Hughes, H. P., Clegg, C. W., Bolton, L. E., & Machon, L. C. (2017). Systems scenarios: a tool for facilitating the socio-technical design of work systems. Ergonomics60(10), 1319-1335.

This research paper also demonstrates the Systems Scenarios Tool (SST). This is a tool that we developed through the MALT project to help practitioners and academics map the socio-technical implications of different design choices, so that they could better manage business risks. This research paper was awarded the Liberty Mutual Award by the editorial board of the journal Ergonomics, as the paper that most contributed to the advancement of the practice of ergonomics in 2017. The SST tool continues to be used by a wide range of organizations, including Rolls-Royce, The Alzheimers Society and Yorkshire Water.

Publications and outputs

To hear more about how key findings from the MALT project might help to navigate a healthcare system post-Covid-19, please watch this webinar, which was led by MALT’s Principal Investigator at the University of Leeds, Dr Helen Hughes as part of our ‘Impacts on Business: Lockdown’ webinar series. 

Further information

If you are interested in hearing more about MALT or would like to discuss opportunities for developing the research, please contact Dr Helen Hughes.