Dr Carys Banks

Research Fellow
Ph.D., M.Res., M.A., B.Soc.Sc. (Hons).


Areas of specialism

Social Anthropology ; Ethnography; Health and Social Care

University roles and responsibilities

  • Member of Workforce, Organisation and Wellbeing (WOW) research theme, School of Health Sciences, University of Surrey.
  • Member of Long-Term Conditions research cluster, School of Health Sciences, University of Surrey.
  • ECR Rep, School of Health Sciences, University of Surrey.

Previous roles

January 2009 - January 2011
In recognition of inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities in NHS and social care services, this project sought to explore how these inequalities were being played out within a group of services in the East of England. The primary aim was to understand how inequalities might be reduced by determining the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved in this service provision. This was a mixed methods project on which I was the primary data collector.
University of Cambridge
August 2013 - December 2013
During my doctorate I was awarded ESRC Overseas Institutional Visit and Overseas Fieldwork funding to conduct ethnographic fieldwork in a learning disability social care service in Malmö, Sweden. I designed this project and sought collaboration with Malmö Högskola (University) and Malmö Stad (municipality) This work enabled me to develop a broader understanding of learning disability support beyond the UK. The funding was originally awarded for three months, but due to the success of the project a further two months of Overseas Fieldwork funding was awarded by ESRC.
University of Bath, Malmö Högskola, Malmö Stad
May 2015 - August 2015
Towards the end of my doctorate I was awarded further funding from ESRC to conduct a placement with a policy team at the Local Government Association and NHS England who had been tasked through the Transforming Care programme to produce a service model for commissioners of health and social care service for people with learning disabilities, autism and behaviour that challenges: https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/service-model-291015.pdf. Following the end of this placement, I was employed by the Local Government Association as an external policy consultant.
University of Bath, Local Government Association

Business, industry and community links


Research interests

Indicators of esteem

  • My doctoral research was awarded the 2016 Radcliffe Brown/Sutasoma Award from the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI). This is ‘a starred award and given to students of exceptional quality in recognition of doctoral research that is of potentially outstanding quality and likely to make an important contribution to social anthropology’.

My teaching

My publications


Banks, C.A. The downside of professional boundaries in learning disability social care support: a case for thinking about emotional connectedness in relations of care (forthcoming 2020).

Banks, C.A. People with learning disabilities who get into trouble: do they understand the consequences of their actions? (forthcoming 2020).

Banks, C.A., D. Wainwright, R. Gooberman-Hill. An ethnography exploring the limits of dedifferentiation in the lives of adults with learning disabilities. Special Issue in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability (in press).

Banks, C.A. (2019). Professional distance versus human touch. Community Living. Available at: https://www.cl-initiatives.co.uk/professional-distance-versus-human-touch/

Banks, C.A. (2019). Care in the 21st century: what can mainstream services learn from the Camphill movement? Alliance for Camphill. https://www.allianceforcamphill.com/post/manage-your-blog-from-your-live-site

Banks, C.A. (2019). Analysing Ethnographic Research Methods: The Importance of Retaining Immersion During the Analytic Process Using Research From UK-Based Learning Disability Social Care Settings. SAGE Research Methods datasets. https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526495990

Banks, C.A. (2018). Sometimes people with learning disabilities need a hug – but support staff aren’t meant to give them. In: The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/sometimes-people-with-learning-disabilities-need-a-hug-but-support-staff-arent-meant-to-give-them-100709

Banks, C.A. (2018). Working through ethical and emotional concerns and uncertainties in ethnographic research with people with learning disabilities. In Ethnographies and Health: Reflections on Empirical and Methodological Entanglements. E. Garnett, J. Reynolds & S. Milton (eds.). Palgrave macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89396-9_2

Banks, C.A. (2015). Lifting the veil on concealed vulnerability: the impact of the ethnographic experience. Medical Anthropology Theory. http://www.medanthrotheory.org/read/5149/lifting-veil

Banks, C. (2013). Social Care Support within UK-Based Supported-Living Homes for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: A Qualitative Interview Study of Support Workers' Accounts of the Nature of Everyday Care and Support. SAGE Research Methods Cases. dx.doi.org/10.4135/978144627305013501439

Redley, M., Banks, C., Foody, K., and Holland, A. (2012). Healthcare for men and women with learning disabilities: understanding inequalities in access. Disability & Society, 27(6), pp. 747–759. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2012.673080

Banks, C. (2012). Interpreting and ‘doing’ empowerment and protection care imperatives in a supported-living environment for intellectually disabled adults: findings from an ethnographic study. Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, 37(3), pp.75-88. https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/publications/everyday-ethnography-interpreting-and-doing-empowerment-and-prote

Banks, C. A., K. Foody, M. Redley and A. J. Holland 2010. Report to the Cambridgeshire Learning Disability Partnership Board: Understanding the Access and Provision of Healthcare to Adults with Learning Disabilities in Cambridgeshire. Cambridge: Cambridgeshire County Council.

Banks, C. and Redley, M. (2009). IMCAs in their second year: the experience of key stakeholders. The Second Year of the Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy Service: 2008-2009, London: Department of Health, pp. 44-54.


Timotijevic Lada, Banks Carys, Rusconi Patrice, Egan Bernadette, Peacock Matthew, Seiss Ellen, Touray Morro, Gage Heather, Pellicano C., Spalletta G., Assogna F., Giglio M., Marcante A., Gentile G., Cikajilo I., Gatsios D., Konitsiotis S., Fotiadis D. (2020) Designing a mHealth Clinical Decision Support System for Parkinson?s Disease: A Theoretically Grounded User Needs Approach,BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 20 (34) BMC (Springer Nature)
Background: Despite the established evidence and theoretical advances explaining human judgments under uncertainty, developments of mobile health (mHealth) Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS) have not explicitly applied the psychology of decision making to the study of user needs. We report on a user needs approach to develop a prototype of a mHealth CDSS for Parkinson?s Disease (PD), which is theoretically grounded in the psychological literature about expert decision making and judgement under uncertainty.
Methods: A suite of user needs studies was conducted in 4 European countries (Greece, Italy, Slovenia, the UK) prior to the development of PD_Manager, a mHealth-based CDSS designed for Parkinson?s Disease, using wireless technology. Study 1 undertook Hierarchical Task Analysis (HTA) including elicitation of user needs, cognitive demands and perceived risks/benefits (ethical considerations) associated with the proposed CDSS, through structured interviews of prescribing clinicians (N=47). Study 2 carried out computational modelling of prescribing clinicians? (N=12) decision strategies based on social judgment theory. Study 3 was a vignette study of prescribing clinicians? (N=18) willingness to change treatment based on either self-reported symptoms data, devices-generated symptoms data or combinations of both.
Results: Study 1 indicated that system development should move away from the traditional silos of ?motor? and ?non-motor? symptom evaluations and suggest that presenting data on symptoms according to goal-based domains would be the most beneficial approach, the most important being patients? overall Quality of Life (QoL). The computational modelling in Study 2 extrapolated different factor combinations when making judgements about different questions. Study 3 indicated that the clinicians were equally likely to change the care plan based on information about the change in the patient?s condition from the patient?s self-report and the wearable devices.
Conclusions: Based on our approach, we could formulate the following principles of mHealth design: 1) enabling shared decision making between the clinician, patient and the carer; 2) flexibility that accounts for diagnostic and treatment variation among clinicians; 3) monitoring of information integration from multiple sources. Our approach highlighted the central importance of the patient-clinician relationship in clinical decision making and the relevance of theoretical as opposed to algorithm (technology)-based modelling of human judgment.
Banks Carys (2018) Working Through Ethical and Emotional Concerns and Uncertainties in Ethnographic Research with People with Learning Disabilities,In: Garnett Emma, Reynolds Joanna, Milton Sarah (eds.), Ethnographies and Health pp. 19-34 Palgrave MacMillan
I conducted ethnographic research exploring how UK-based learning disability government policy, which focuses on improving people?s lives through a range of social, political and economically driven aims, impacted everyday relations in support settings. Whilst conducting the ethnography, I was confronted with a series of concerns and uncertainties relating to clarity over my positionality as a researcher. This led me to consider whether, through this approach, I was replicating similar power imbalances I was observing to be taking place between people within the research context. Although this brought to the fore the ethical riskiness of using ethnography with people with learning disabilities, through reflection, I was able to develop a deeper interpretative understanding of the power dynamics being experienced in these health-related care contexts.