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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Caring about the best services

This opinion piece is about 8 years old

Nigel Henderson, chief executive of Penumbra, considers what the third sector is doing right as Care Inspectorate results show it's leading in care home provision

Nigel Henderson, chief executive of Penumbra
Nigel Henderson, chief executive of Penumbra

Why do third sector care and support services consistently outperform other sectors when it comes to delivering high-quality services?

Two recent reports by the Care Inspectorate about care home and care-at-home services show the third sector performs consistently better than other sectors. When you compare price and quality the third sector is the best value option. Why is this?

This is difficult territory as more research is needed to qualify this. However, based on my observations and experience, I offer the following thoughts.

Could it be that the work of the third sector is deeply rooted in values-based practice? This cannot be the sole reason as I know many people in other sectors who share these values and practice accordingly. Maybe the third sector is able to apply these values more consistently?

What I do know is that a lot of care and support work is about relationships: building, maintaining and providing continuity in relationships are key to good-quality personal outcomes.

Another reason might be our ability to respond creatively to people’s needs. I believe the third sector is naturally innovative and creative. Since the mid 1980s the sector has transformed services in the community as alternatives to institutional care. I think there is an innate desire to do the right thing rather than simply doing things right, ensuring services are person centred and personalised.

A final thought is that the governance structures of the third sector may contribute to services being more agile, person centred and responsive. Thousands of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences volunteer their time as trustees. I wonder if this diversity and richness holds our sector to account in a different way from public and private sector structures.

These are brief thoughts and an interesting question to ponder and certainly one that is worthy of further research.

Nigel Henderson is chief executive of Penumbra.



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