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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of Vancouver-Richmond meals-on-wheels McKinnon, Mona Claire


Little is known about Meals-on-Wheels organizations, though they exist in many western countries. The purpose of this study is to examine the Vancouver-Richmond Meals-on-Wheels service as an organization and from that examination to provide information about clients, volunteers, staff, and organizational management. The literature was searched for guidance on the concept of Meals-on-Wheels. Was there any definition of an ideal organization? Similarly, discussions with government officials in the Province of British Columbia were conducted to determine what they thought this organization might contribute to the province's social support services. The prescriptions were vague and it was found that many assumptions were made. It seemed that organization theory might help to expose the gaps in these prescriptions. An examination of the organization by observation, interviews, use of secondary data for client profiles, questionnaires for volunteers, and interviews of present clients led to the development of a descriptive account which was arranged using a model developed by Donabedian to assess the quality of patient care, namely, inputs, process, structure, and outcomes. It became clear that organizational theory might assist in diagnosis of some managerial problems as the findings showed that client turnover was high. Analysis of available data had shown the clients to be in the category of "old, old," fairly evenly distributed throughout the area, and self-referred. Those volunteers who responded to a questiononaire were long-term, reasonably satisfied, and strongly committed. The clients interviewed were unstinting in their praise for the volunteers and appreciative of the service. They were dissatisfied with certain aspects of the food and their lack of opportunity for input into this aspect of Meals-on-Wheels. The employees found it difficult to communicate with the investigator and with other important community representatives. Internal and external relationships seemed to be tense. It seemed that by developing a prescription for "best practices" for a Meals-on-Wheels organization working in this context, comparisons of the existing organization with this prescription might assist with the diagnosis of managerial problems and lead to identification of possible remedies. This course was followed.

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