How health & social care in Scotland can be different 17 November 2021

Are you interested in exploring how we can commission care and support in a way that enables people to thrive? 

Our first event, Putting people first - how health and social care in Scotland can be different, took place on 17 November and participants could learn about:  

  • What commissioning for outcomes really entails 
  • Practical tips on how to start applying Human Learning Systems to your work 
  • Examples of commissioning done differently at person, place and national levels  

Speakers included: 

Human Learning Systems as a way to do things differentlyDr Toby Lowe, Visiting Professor at the Centre for Public Impact 

How can commissioning help people create outcomes in their lives? 

Professor Toby Lowe challenges us to recognise that an outcome is the emergent property of complex systems and learning as a management strategy is the way forward. 


“Better outcomes for less money = happier people” 

How to begin to think about a Human Learning Systems experiment: a Public Health Scotland perspective - Manira Ahmed, Chief Officer, Public Health Scotland and Claire Sweeney, Director for Place and Wellbeing, Public Health Scotland 

How might a learning approach to Public Health work?  

Claire Sweeney and Manira Ahmad share their thoughts on how a learning approach resonates with mobilising everyone around public health, focusing on complexity of people’s lives. 


“Radical relationship and radical change around kindness….. needs all of us to engage” 

Human Learning Systems in practice - examples from the real world commissioning at a person level: Gateshead - Mark Smith, Director of Public Service Reform, Gateshead Council 

When is council tax arrears a prompt for a good conversation and problem solving and not a signal for debt collection?     

Mark Smith shares Gateshead Council’s work to build relationships, listen to what people need and provide a bespoke offers which help people, reduces demand and saves the public purse 

'Don't do things better....... do better things!' 

Effectively commissioning community resources - Heidi Tweedie, Social Movement & Enterprise Lead, Moray Wellbeing Hub CIC 

What happens when people are mobilised through a social movement to promote wellbeing in their community?  

Heidi Tweedie speaking about the social movement that led to the establishing of Moray Wellbeing Hub. Heidi talks about the different type of partnerships with investors and top tips on effectively commissioning community resources. 


“Figure out how you can say yes to investing in communities. Let the power flow through you!” 

Commissioning at a place level: Plymouth - Gary Wallace, Public Health Specialist, Plymouth City Council 

How do you commission for learning and promote collaboration? 

Gary Wallace talking us through Plymouth Council’s different approach to commissioning with learning and partnership  at the heart of everything.   


“Our mission is not to hit targets but to understand value”…….. “Doing more of the same was therefore not sustainable- most of the risk was in doing more of the same”

Creating an HLS experiment - Susan Paxton, Head of Programmes with Scottish Community Development Centre & CHEX and Biddy Kelly, Managing Director, Fresh Start (Scotland)

How might you start to think about using a learning approach in a community project? 

Susan Paxton from Scottish Community Development Centre and Biddy Kelly from FreshStart speak about Nessie, a project in NE Edinburgh which focusses on complexity of peoples’ lives, focussed on relationships and create a learning environment at different levels. 


“I’m not an expert in Human Learning Systems but I like human beings and putting relationships first ” 

Implications for national level: Finland - Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Director General of the International Baccalaureate and former Director General of the Finnish National Agency for Education 

What happens when a nation’s education agency really puts learning at the centre?  

Olli- Pekka shares his experience of the Finnish education system creating an experiment to support change in pedagogy and working culture across the whole system   


“Once you reach that level when those shields of professional security are lowered then things really start happening ………in finding the real solutions”  


Download all presentations here

Speaker biographies


This was the first of two events that will look at how commissioning can be done differently.  

The second event on 9th December, will build on what we have learned and offer the chance to co-design Human Learning Systems experiments.  

Putting people first - Part II: co-designing your Human Learning Systems explorations is the second of two events that explore how commissioning care and support can be done differently, with a particular focus on the Human Learning Systems approach. 

By joining us at this event, you will have the opportunity to take part in live co-design explorations, with expert advice and support from people who have experience of designing Human Learning Systems experiments at people, place and national levels.  

You can register for 9th December here: