Publication - Report

External Review of the National Carer Organisations (NCOs)

Published: 7 Sep 2016
Population Health Directorate
Part of:
Health and social care

External review of the National Carer Organisations (NCOs) undertaken by Reid Howie Associates.

76 page PDF

757.5 kB

76 page PDF

757.5 kB

External Review of the National Carer Organisations (NCOs)
Annex 3: Issues relating to potential models

76 page PDF

757.5 kB

Annex 3: Issues relating to potential models

As set out in Section 4 of the main report, a range of suggestions were made about structural options for the NCO body, and these could be grouped into three main types of model (although there would clearly be a range of different ways of translating these into practice). These were:

  • Retention of the current model of an informal partnership.
  • Development of a formal partnership.
  • Development of one (or a small number) of national organisation(s).

These models, and some of their potential implications (based on the findings of the review) are set out below, as a starting point for further consideration. It is recognised, however, that there would be a need for further detailed discussion of these models, and their strengths and weaknesses.

Issues relating to each of the models have been grouped under a range of headings:

  • Structure.
  • Staffing and responsibilities.
  • Potential for development.
  • Efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Achievability.

Informal partnership

  • This model would retain the status quo, being an informal partnership without a constitution or any formal legal status.
  • Participation would be on a voluntary basis by each organisation.
  • Participation would be based on informal agreement of the contribution of each NCO.
  • The model would continue to rely on "goodwill" as the basis of participation, but the informal nature of the partnership may make it vulnerable to change.
  • Oversight of the work of the partnership would be undertaken by members at partnership meetings.
  • There would be no management structure, formal scrutiny, or clear accountability, although some of these processes could be developed further than they are at present.
  • There would be no single point of contact for the partnership, although this could be developed.
  • The model would not preclude the development of mechanisms for inclusion of a more diverse range of legitimate stakeholders as participants, and membership arrangements and responsibilities could be clarified.
Staffing and responsibilities
  • Responsibility for the functions identified in each of the key areas would be split between the NCOs on the basis of mutual agreement as at present.
  • It would be possible to develop this model further, to identify a voluntary lead officer (perhaps supported by a sub-group) to take responsibility for each of the overall areas of work (e.g. through co-ordination of the specific tasks and accountability for reporting on progress).
  • The allocation of responsibilities would be on a relatively ad hoc basis, with a risk of duplication.
  • There would remain no dedicated administrative support for the work of the partnership.
  • The partnership would be unable to employ staff directly. The only way for the partnership to have staff support would be through an indirect route (i.e. where one NCO applies for funding and employs a member of staff dedicated to partnership activities). However, this member of staff would neither be employed, directed nor managed by the partnership. This has a range of potential risks in relation to partnership working, transparency, accountability and how the work is directed.
Potential for development
  • The partnership could continue to develop its strategy, aims and objectives as at present.
  • There would be relatively little potential for expansion of the role or development of the functions, largely due to resource constraints.
  • There could be a lack of capacity (given the volume of potential work and the increasing challenges, as well as members' individual responsibilities within their own organisations) and the partnership would be unable to apply for funding in its own right to develop capacity.
  • The model relies almost totally on funding from the Scottish Government to individual NCOs for those aspects of the work which they are able to bring to the partnership.
  • Although the partnership, as it currently operates, can work around the issue of Scottish Government funding, this brings potential difficulties.
  • The partnership would not be able to apply for non-Scottish Government funding, other than through a third party (e.g. an individual NCO).
  • There may be scope for some efficiency savings through sharing office space, sharing functions etc.
Efficiency and effectiveness
  • The model would ensure the retention of existing strengths of the NCO Network, as identified in the review.
  • Some of the concerns and challenges, however, would not be addressed.
  • The work could be constrained by the availability of staff time and financial resources, and many of the types of work identified could not take place, or would be limited in scope and scale.
  • There is potential for competition, disagreement and conflict to undermine the partnership working (although this has not happened to date).
  • There is a risk that the programme of work would be based upon the availability of donated staff time, and that agenda would be driven by the interests and specialisation of individual NCO members, rather than by a more strategic approach.
  • The implementation of this model would be achievable with no, or minimal change.
  • Most of the NCOs appear to prefer retention of the status quo, making implementation straightforward.
  • This model would not directly challenge the participation of any of the current organisations.
  • This model would not cause any disruption to existing work.

Formal partnership

  • This model would build upon the existing structure, and would involve a formal partnership structure and the establishment of a formal "entity" (with or without staff members).
  • Arrangements for management and governance of the partnership and any staff would be clarified in formal documents.
  • There would be more formal scrutiny and transparency, although there would be a need to avoid problems with a lack of clear support, supervision and accountability for any staff.
  • Oversight would be through a specified structure (either involving the members, or a "board" or "advisory group").
  • The model would not preclude the involvement of additional stakeholders, but the basis of this would be clear.
Staffing and responsibilities
  • The model could be implemented with or without staff, but would allow the partnership to appoint some shared core staff if this were considered beneficial.
  • Alternatively, responsibility for work could be shared between the NCOs on the basis of formal agreement.
  • Any staff appointed would need an appropriate level of delegated authority to be able to carry out their work effectively.
  • In the first instance, staff could be "hosted" by an individual NCO, but overseen by the partnership (although this would require a clear agreement on how the post would be line managed, and how their work would be directed). In time, any national staff could be employed and managed by the NCO partnership itself.
  • At the most basic level, there could be a dedicated Co-ordinator who could provide a "postbox" resource to facilitate and co-ordinate the work, with the rest of the work carried out by members, as in Option 1.
  • A further potential role for a shared member of staff at an early stage would be to assist in developing a detailed structure and strategic plan.
  • It would also be possible to have additional shared staff for some key aspects of the work of the partnership as the structure developed. These posts could be added incrementally. For example, there could be a national development officer for the following functions:
  • Policy and strategy.
  • Monitoring and research.
  • Developing capacity and practice (e.g. funding and training).
  • Communication.
  • The services function (for which a specific national development officer would seem least necessary) could be taken forward as per Option 1 (i.e. via a lead officer and sub-group).
  • These staff members could co-ordinate and develop work in these areas, with direction from a sub-group and assistance with the day to day work (as per Option 1) from other relevant staff in the NCOs.
Potential for development
  • The partnership could apply for funding in its own right, both from the Scottish Government and other sources.
  • This would extend the capacity of the partnership, whether or not there were specific shared staff.
  • It could provide dedicated resources for strategic development, and could potentially enhance the work of the partnership.
  • However, this model could not be funded by subscriptions (as happens with some other similar networks), as there are not enough NCOs to do this.
  • Using the example of the Health and Social Care Alliance, this could perhaps be an option that the Scottish Government could consider funding directly.
  • If shared staff were to be appointed, these would be unlikely to be wholly additional posts. It may be that some NCOs would have to give up some element of their funding to support these as it is unlikely that additional funding would be forthcoming from the Scottish Government.
  • There may be scope for some efficiency savings through sharing office space, sharing functions etc.
Efficiency and effectiveness
  • The model would retain and build upon the current strengths of the partnership, while addressing many of the concerns highlighted.
  • There would be an opportunity to focus on the co-ordination of the group, its strategy and activities and links with relevant stakeholders.
  • There would be a single and clear point of contact for the NCO partnership, and arguably a more coherent approach to the development and implementation of the work.
  • This model would reduce the likelihood of duplication. It would allow joint working on joint projects (or where there would be a risk of duplication), while retaining individual organisations' strengths and areas of expertise.
  • The model could enable a clearer identity and "branding" for the partnership.
  • The model would enable a more strategic approach to work undertaken, but further formalisation could impact on the "goodwill" in the current partnership, and reduce flexibility and co-operation.
  • The model could be implemented incrementally and at a pace to reflect the changing needs and capacity of the partnership.
  • A number (although not all) of the NCOs stated that they would consider this to be an acceptable way forward or "first step", but there were also some reservations.
  • While addressing a number of the perceived concerns, an incremental approach would lead to relatively slow change, retaining some of the problems which have been identified in the meantime.
  • The model would not directly challenge the participation of any of the current organisations, but would provide a clear basis for this.
  • The model would be unlikely to be particularly disruptive to current work, at a time when there are high profile carer issues requiring input from the NCOs.
  • There is considerable longer term potential for this model to address many of the issues highlighted in the review.

One national "organisation" or a small number of national organisations

  • This model would involve major structural change.
  • There would be one overall NCO organisation, or a much smaller number of NCOs than is currently the case.
  • Some or all of the NCOs would have to amalgamate, with functions transferred to the "new" NCO or NCOs.
  • The single national organisation could have different "branches" for each of the different work streams identified, and a range of staff within those branches.
  • Alternatively, a small number of reconfigured or new NCOs could each focus on a key area of work (e.g. policy and research; training, awareness and capacity development; and services and support).
  • The management and governance structure would be clear and specified, and there could be a single point of contact.
  • There would be clear arrangements for oversight and supervision.
  • There would be greater transparency, accountability and arguably more efficient use of resources (both time and money).
Staffing and responsibilities
  • Staff would be appointed to fulfil key roles in the specific areas of work required.
  • In each case, the functions within the existing NCOs (identified in the key work) would be replicated in the new organisation(s), although the actual staffing composition may differ.
  • While there would clearly be a need for detailed discussion and consideration of the optimum structure and staffing, the types of overall functional areas and roles might include:
  • Overall management and co-ordination (e.g. CEO; Senior Managers; Admin support / finance). With more than one organisation, there may be a need for an overall Co-ordinator for each work stream to be located within one of the NCOs.
  • Policy and research (e.g. Policy manager / officer(s); Research Manager / officer(s)).
  • Training, awareness raising and capacity development (e.g. Training and development manager / staff; Funding officer; Local services and centres development and support staff; Equality development officer(s) / specialist staff; Media and Communications manager / staff).
  • Services and support (e.g. Services and events manager / staff; Information Officer and Assistants; Shared care manager and staff; Festival Coordinator; Parliament Co-ordinator; and Project Officer(s) as required).
Potential for development
  • A single NCO, or small number of NCOs with specific responsibilities, could apply for funding (bringing the benefits described previously, in terms of increasing capacity and developing work further).
  • There would be efficiency savings through the consolidation of office space, creation of shared functions and potentially in other areas, although these may take some time to emerge, and may need to be offset in the short term against the costs of making the necessary changes.
Efficiency and effectiveness
  • There would be a straightforward means of strategic planning and co-ordination, with clear roles and coherent aims and objectives.
  • This model offers the option with the lowest likelihood of duplication of functions and potentially the best value for money.
  • There would be a single and clear point of contact for each of the areas of work of the NCOs and there would be an obvious route for the provision of a national "voice" for carers, as well as for robust links to other relevant local and national organisations.
  • There would be clear branding and identity.
  • There is, however, a danger of the loss of organisational diversity and skills and some of the strengths of the current arrangements.
  • There would also be a very large amount of disruption in a move to such a structure, at a very busy time for the NCOs. This would impact on the work of the NCOs themselves, and on other organisations which value their input, however, it is likely that with prior planning, these impacts could be minimised.
  • The model would require wholesale change to the NCOs individually and as a group.
  • This model would not be favoured by any of the NCOs (on the basis of the contributions made to this review.
  • There would be a loss of ownership, and potential damage to the positive work and relationships that have been built through existing arrangements.
  • There would be considerable disruption to current work.
  • To start to restructure from scratch would take no account of the historical development of the NCO Network and would not be considered constructive.
  • The development of a "new" NCO would require funding support from the Scottish Government, both for development and for on-going revenue. It should be assumed that the funding available for such an option would be less than that currently provided for the current NCOs and network activities. However, it is also likely that there would be some reduction in overall costs as a result of the implementation of such an option.
  • It is unclear how such a model could work with the UK-wide organisations in the Network, and current funding arrangements. It is considered highly likely that it would be difficult to secure agreement for mergers to take place.


Email: Peggy Winford,