Systems thinking in health services


Collaboration between PenCLAHRC and the Lab

The Dartington Service Design Lab is developing a strategic collaboration with PenCHORD and the wider PenCLAHRC. Based in the south-west of England, PenCHORD is a leading research centre specialising in operational research and healthcare system modelling. It sits within PenCLAHRC, a National Institute for Healthcare Research (NIHR) centre, that undertakes high-quality applied healthcare research focused on the needs of patients and the translation of research evidence into practice in the NHS.

The aim of the collaboration is to:

  • Develop strong multi-disciplinary links between healthcare research (which PenCHORD and PenCLAHRC focus on) and research in wider the social sector (that the Dartington Lab focus on):

  • Reciprocally boost skills and capacity within the Lab and PenCHORD in relation to engagement and facilitation (something the Dartington Lab is particularly strong at) and technical aspects of system dynamics modelling (something that PenCHORD is particularly strong at);

  • Work together on the publication of scientific papers to disseminate the learning from our respective and collaborative work;

  • Proactively seek out opportunities to undertake high quality applied research that positively impacts the health and well-being of children, families and communities in the south west of England.

Our collaboration is practically achieved by:

  • Regular exchanges across teams in which we share updates, learning, tools and resources, related to system modelling and beyond;

  • Proactive seeking of opportunities to work together on local and national programmes of applied research aligned to each of our organisational missions;

  • Collaboration on a range of scientific papers to share our work with the wider scientific community, including co-presentation at major conferences.

The history of our connection:

Members of PenCLAHRC have collaborated on a number of pieces of work over the last five years, including work on a number of Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) of services for children and young people and writing by Tim Hobbs and Tamsin Ford on measuring the well-being of children in schools. This connection has strengthened as some members of the Dartington team have moved on to take up new positions in the CLAHRC. Over the last 18 months the Dartington Lab has forged a strong relationship with the PenCHORD, who have provided support in our system modelling work in a local mental health system.

You can read more about PenCLAHRC and PenCHORD here: