Social care research requires understanding of complex issues surrounding human need and ageing, capacity and impact of services, sustainability, use of resources, and change over time. Social care and social work theory draw on systems thinking, and simulation is used in education and training. Yet use of modelling and simulation to aid understanding is rare.


This review aimed to introduce one approach to modelling and simulation, System Dynamics, which can bring potential benefits and insights. It sought to draw on examples of its use in the health sector are cited, and discuss its possible relevance to social care.


The review introduces some generic building blocks for representing populations, services, human resources, and finance, and outlines a possible methodology, group model building, as an approach that uses simulation to enhance thinking and learning.

Modelling social care complexity: the potential of System Dynamics
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