Healthy Life Simulation


Please note that we’re no longer running these activities

Healthy Life Simulation Information sheets 2015

Community Healthy Life Simulation Event – in a nutshell

This is a one day event, using an interactive behavioural simulation tool, to help people to come up with new and realistic local solutions to help close the healthy life expectancy gap between low and high income areas in their town.

Healthy Life Simulation is an innovative research based behavioural simulation tool, commissioned by Newcastle University, to generate new insights into the avoidable, unnecessary and unjust problems of inequalities in ageing. It was designed as a reusable tool for policy makers in public health, is highly accessible and can be played by anyone. Simulations have been used by the military and large businesses for many decades, they encourage people to think differently about how to act and how to react to the environment around them.


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How does it work? 


Experienced facilitators run the simulation, setting the scene and providing all the necessary data and tools. The simulation follows a dramatic scenario in which participants work in a role play as a Health & Wellbeing Board, to solve the problems of promoting better health. Participants are given the specific challenge of reducing the current gap in life expectancy, over the next 10 years, using existing budgets and resources. It describes how citizens living in neighbouring low and high income areas in the same town have very different health profiles. Although it is a fictitious simulation, it is based on real data and has been developed to compare the number of days of ill health and premature death caused by specific diseases that vary with lifestyle and environment. The risks associated with these diseases are described and a range of interventions that have the potential to reduce the risks, and thus the development of disease, are presented. Participants have to prioritise interventions they believe are most likely to work. In doing so, they follow a standard process of research, analysis and decision making.


Who is it aimed at?

Organisations who want to understand what will work in their local area to address health inequalities and the gap in healthy life expectancy. The Healthy Life Simulation Events have been run successfully with a range of organisations including Health and Wellbeing Boards, school children, community volunteer champions, medical students and local residents.


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What are the benefits/outcomes?

There are several benefits of working in this way including:

  • It places communities at the forefront of devising solutions to health inequalities:
    Local people have a unique perspective on the issues affecting health and wellbeing both for themselves and their communities. They represent an important, and often overlooked asset in instigating local improvements to environments and services. It supports asset based community development work.
  • It brings communities together:
    The game can be played by people across social groups (income bands, occupations, ethnicity, religion, age) and breaks down misconceptions and prejudices on all sides. Once people are combined in a team they work together to achieve the common goal of improved health for all.
  • It is a health promotion tool:
    In the process of playing the game, people learn the principles of leading a healthier life and are empowered to make better choices through knowledge and understanding. The hard evidence of disease, risk and prevention are presented in a novel and accessible way which results in personal choices on actions directed at leading a healthier life.
  • It is a professional policy making tool:
    The simulation can be used to gather information on local public health and community needs in a unique and equal interface between health professionals and citizens. Even senior health professionals, who are increasingly specialised, can lose sight of how the whole system fits together. Throughout the game, participants are aware of the complex environment that connects everything together and can move beyond looking at a single intervention for a single condition. The “causes of the causes” of health inequalities are made prominent.
  • It provides information and education:
    As an intelligent, lively and interactive tool, the simulation can be used to inform and educate young people on routes to achieve healthier lives for themselves and their families as well as increasing understanding of the moral, economic and social implications of inequalities in health and ageing.

What we have seen is that even though the factors that impact on health inequalities are massive and complex, presented in the right way, people completely new to the topic, particularly local residents, are able to grasp the complexities and, often come up with solutions similar to those of academics and commissioners.

Interested to run this in your organisation?
We have a range of options, based on this Healthy Life Simulation Event, For further information on what is available, contact Barbara Cage, Senior Manager Information & Communications, HealthWORKS Newcastle

Download full Information sheet here


Fenham Coomunity Health SimulationFenham Community Health Simulation

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To date,  three  Newcastle west end ward community health simulations have taken place, resulting in the production of  Residents’ Charters for Health and Wellbeing from discussion and debate on the day.

Members of the six teams taking part across Elswick, Fenham and Wingrove presented their key findings at presentation events to local Councillors, projects and residents and outlined in further detail their ‘what’s next’ stage ideas, to improve healthy life expectancy where they live.

£2000 real budget has been set aside in both Fenham and Wingrove wards, made available to local people keen to seed fund some of their realistic recommendations and solutions in their areas. Copies of the resident presentations are available on request.

Copies of each charter can be viewed or downloaded from the links below:

Fenham Residents’ Health and Wellbeing Charter

Wingrove Residents’ Health and Wellbeing Charter

Elswick  Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing Charter


Special thanks for support from Elswick ward for piloting the community simulation initially and to Fenham and Wingrove wards for funding the projects via ward Health and Wellbeing Funds.