Small voluntary organisations providing day care services to elderly people : a study in organisational change
The development of a mixed economy of social care has raised the profile of the UK voluntary sector. But although they constitute an important part of the voluntary sector, there is little information about small, local, voluntary service providers. It was suggested that external pressures such as changes in funding (from grant to contract) and social policies (enhancing the role of voluntary agencies in service provision) might result in significant changes to these organisations. Day centres and luncheon clubs for elderly people were chosen for study because these were services with a strong voluntary sector tradition; the services were community- based; and the population served was of particular concern to policy makers. Twelve agencies were examined: three day centres and three luncheon clubs in each of two London boroughs. Five variables were examined: goals, structure, governance, funding, and personnel. The study found that the main trigger for change was the increased frailty of clientele. This was reported by eight organisations. Six agencies reported increased extent and intensity of service, accompanied by hiring of paid staff and a re-examination of goals. Four organisations reported no changes in clientele, activities, personnel, or goals. Two organisations reported changes in clientele but no changes in the activities, personnel, or goals of the clubs. None of the organisations reported significant changes in governance. The study concluded that organisations that saw the service recipients as internal elements of the organisation were more likely to change than organisations that saw their clientele as external to the organisation. Paradoxically, the more the agencies responded to the needs of their members, the more formal and "bureaucratic" they had to become in order to provide an intensive, reliable service. The study challenges the assumption that external forces, particularly funding, invariably result in organisational change.