Scotland Decides – We Respond to the Referendum
On 18th September 2014, Scotland chose to remain part of the United Kingdom, in a historical referendum. As a major provider of care and support in Scotland, we joined the entire nation in eagerly awaiting these results.
Neil Matthewman, Chief Executive of Community Integrated Care, explains: “The referendum was a once-in-a-generation opportunity for people in Scotland to have their say about the country’s future. At Community Integrated Care, we recognised that independence could have implications for organisations that work on both sides of the border.”
He continues, “Scotland accounts for 20% of Community Integrated Care’s overall service provision and we are proud to have delivered services here since 1998. Organisationally, we felt that it was important that to maintain neutrality regarding the outcome of the vote. Our position was simple – no matter what the result, we will continue to be committed to providing the best services possible in Scotland – and we assured the people we support, our colleagues and our professional partners of this.”
As part of our Five Year Strategy, last year Community Integrated Care developed a dedicated Scotland Advisory Board of Trustees, which is led by our Chairperson, Edinburgh’s Dame Joan Stringer. This group is well attuned to key policy issues in Scotland, helping us to effectively plan for either independence in Scotland or further devolution.
Following the ‘No’ vote, we will be closely monitoring plans for further devolution, to understand how they may affect the health and social care sector, and to effectively respond to any legislative changes. With a dedicated leadership team in Scotland, we believe that we can be agile in our response to any developments in Scotland’s political system.
We’ve also committed to working with other providers to consider how the referendum will affect the wider care sector. Neil explains, “It’s important that providers work together to understand the impact of the ‘no’ vote and the further devolution it will bring. One way that we will be doing this is by hosting an event at our Glasgow Office in partnership with ACOSVO, which I am proud to be chairing, that will review the opportunities for care providers in post-referendum Scotland.”
Our teams across Scotland also worked hard to ensure that the people we support understood the importance of the referendum, both sides of the debate and were empowered to cast their vote. Brian Murphy, Regional Director for Community Integrated Care, explains: “Good care and support is about enabling people to be valued citizens and contribute to society, so it was fundamental to us that the people we support could make their views known at the ballot box.”
He continues, “We tried to make understanding and participating in the vote accessible and inclusive. One example of how we achieved this can be seen in Aberdeenshire, where we supported people to access independent drama sessions about the referendum; this helped them to receive unbiased information and form their own opinions. As a result, many of the people we support chose to exercise their democratic rights. There was a real sense of excitement and anticipation in all of our services, as our colleagues and the people we support recognised that that were helping to make history.”