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Blog: Gathering the threads – Horizontal Learning

Joanna Clark, Projects Manager works for Fife Voluntary Action and was involved in Threading the Needle in Fife. In her blog she reflects on horizontal learning and exchange between third sector organisations and feeding up vertically to enhance decision making.

Reflecting on last month’s Gathering the Threads event that knitted the learning points of the Threading the Needle programme of ESS support together seamlessly, I was heartened by what we had achieved together. But it made me very aware that this type of joined up working, cross-sectoral learning and opportunity to focus on “what works” is sporadic across the landscape of Health and Social Integration and that if we are to reach a point where individuals’ outcomes truly drive commissioning decisions we have a lot more work, conversation and discovering to do.

From the third sector interface’s [TSI’s] perspective the challenge was considerable – how to best gather all available evidence to inform future commissioning decisions on Befriending – given the range and type of interventions on offer, the variety of reasons why people experience loneliness, and the breadth of outcomes and learning that could be recorded.

Each third sector organisation [TSO] has valuable insight and knowledge in their area (thematic and geographic) however an overarching logical structure, into which each feeds data, enhances the overall quality of what is available to the commissioning process.

The relationship between horizontal and vertical flows of information is key. What is required by the commissioning body to be reported is vital to the success of the overall process and those working at the coal face need to be engaged to ensure that the right evidence is being collected and reported on.

Here in Fife we have just begun looking at how that can be progressed, rethinking the horizontal learning and exchange between TSOs, their monitoring officers and the performance teams so that what is fed vertically up the decision making tree is of the best quality.

Various factors contributed to our partnership in Fife, not least having the outside support of ESS, which enabled us to focus on what might work to evidence the outcomes that Befriending projects could have on Social Isolation in Fife.

More information about Threading the Needle here

Threading the Needle resources:

Three learning points:

How to explore decision making and the role of evidence

From the source to the sea – Understanding how befriending can help Fife Health and Social Care Partnership address its priorities

The story of Threading the Needle in:

Reviewing the pathway (Anticipatory Care Plan, Glasgow)

North Ayrshire Monitoring and Evaluation Form