Skip to Evaluation Support Scotland content

Home » Supporting you » Thematic Programmes » Threading the Needle

Threading the Needle

Using third sector evidence to commission outcomes for health and social care

Threading the Needle was a Scottish Government funded programme to support health and social care commissioners in Glasgow, Fife, North Ayrshire and Perth and Kinross to use third sector evidence to commission outcomes for health and social care.  

The programme contributed to helping partnership members meet their responsibility to actively involve the third sector in the planning and design of integrated health and social care services. 

'Gathering the threads', our final event, took place on Tuesday 31 January 2017 and we launched our resources - see below. Also see the key messages from the programme here.

Phase 2 of the programme has been agreed and will continue in 2017/18:

In Perth and Kinross we’ll work with partners and ISD on the pathways project.  This is about integrating third sector data with public sector data to explore how people use and experience services.  We will also work with commissioners and third sector to improve the use of third sector reporting. 

In Fife we have already worked local third and public sector partners to develop a model From the source to the sea – understanding how befriending can help Fife Health and Social Care Partnership address its prioritiesWe’ll now be working with partners to use the framework to gather and use evidence.  

We will also work with national partners to ensure Threading the Needle learning is embedded more widely as part of national improvement support for health and social care integration.  This will particularly involve joining up with the Improvement Hub, NHS Health Scotland and with national third sector partners.

Threading the Needle Resources

Learning Point - Using third sector evidence to commission outcomes for health and social care:

We need to talk about data and evidence

We need to understand where the third sector evidence fits

We need to build the focus on outcomes

How to explore decision making and the role of evidence

From the source to the sea - Understanding how befriending can help Fife Health & Social Care Partnership address its priorities.  

The story of Threading the Needle in:



North Ayrshire 

Perth & Kinross

Layers of support






Monitoring and evaluation form used by North Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership for the Integrated Care Fund.

Reviewing the pathway (Glasgow)

Learning from A Stitch in Time? materials: A commissioning guide. The third sector contribution to health and social care 

Programme aims

1.   Improve understanding about how the new Integration Authorities and lead agencies really make decisions, so barriers to achieving outcomes can be addressed. 

2.   Support those involved in the strategic planning groups to embed learning from and about third sector evidence in decision-making.

3.   Produce sharper third sector ‘what works’ evidence about some selected interventions to ensure better decision-making.

4.   Generate generic lessons about third sector interventions and outcomes that can be applied to the planning and procurement of services for all client groups.

What we are doing?

Taking a flexible approach has enabled each participating Health and Social Care Partnership: Glasgow, Fife, North Ayrshire and Perth and Kinross to concentrate on different aspects of using third sector evidence.

Glasgow – is focussing on anticipatory plans. Working with the Anticipatory Care Team, Glasgow Council for Voluntary Sector (GCVS) and Voluntary Action Fund (Transformation Fund), ESS is helping to find out what the third sector can do to help people plan for their future health and social care needs. Read more …

Fife – wants to explore how different models of befriending may be able to help the Partnership achieve its strategic priorities. ESS is supporting third sector projects and council staff to build their evaluation skills and develop a logic model which will help them gather useful evidence. Read more …

North Ayrshire – is concentrating on how best to gather and use third sector evidence to inform strategic commissioning decisions; the learning will inform a revision of existing reporting (and application) processes to be jointly carried out by commissioners and third sector organisations. Read more …

Perth and Kinross – is using third sector evidence to map services with other data to create an informed picture of population need and to identify gaps in service provision.  Read more …

By the end of the programme we will produce

  • Reports from each area
  • Specific products including a befriending logic model, reporting templates and a guide to evidence-informed decision-making
  • Some programme level learning points which are likely to include learning about:
             - The steps to improving the use of third sector evidence.
             - The barriers in the system to the use of (third sector) evidence 
               and how to address them.
            -  Approaches to building skills to use evidence.
            -  How partners can work together to share and use evidence. 
            -  The challenges of culture change for health and social care integration.
Share this

This site uses cookies. We use cookies to enable key functionality in the site, and to help us learn how you use the site so that we can keep improving it. By using our site you accept our use of cookies. You can learn more or continue.