Modelling social care complexity: the potential of System Dynamics

McKelvie D


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 introduces one approach to modelling and simulation, System Dynamics, which can bring potential benefits and insights. Examples of its use in the health sector are cited, and its possible relevance to social care discussed.

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.

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