Many of us caring for older parents will have at some stage to contemplate finding them a care home. Unless you can rely on some local knowledge or better still, a friend’s recommendation, this is not an easy task. Whilst the Care Quality Commission can provide a list of homes registered in your area and copies of their inspection reports, it is then up to you to visit and decide whether the home is appropriate to your parents’ needs.
Today’s launch of the “Good Care Guide” website aims to help this process. Developed by two social enterprises, My Family Care and United for All Ages, Good Care Guide will list several thousand care homes (as well as child care agencies) and includes an online facility for users to give a rating out of five and post comments – rather like “TripAdvisor”.
Stephen Burke, Director of Good Care Guide, (whom I met at the recent launch of Tomorrow Together) says: “Good Care Guide will make it much easier for consumers of care to find out what other people really think about care providers. It’s unique by covering childcare and eldercare, and will provide families with a tool that will enable them to judge the quality of a provider from the honest feedback of other users and enable care users to share their experiences, good or bad. We hope that Good Care Guide becomes a deciding factor in choosing care after someone has read the official inspection report as well as visited the provider.”
However, some care providers have expressed concerns, particularly after TripAdvisor came under fire recently from hoteliers claiming that malicious comments were being posted by competitors trying to damage their businesses.
Good Care Guide has taken these concerns on board, putting in place checks to help make sure this does not happen. For instance, anyone leaving a comment will be emailed by staff to check their identity.
Good Care Guide clearly has the potential to be an important resource for families considering care. How useful it will prove to be will depend on how ready people are to get involved and take time to report their experiences. But it is a model that has been used successfully elsewhere, not just in the holiday and restaurant industries but also with home maintenance sites like Rated People and CheckaTrade and other more niche community websites such as Enabled by Design. It is also a model being considered for independent living aids (See Raising the Standard).
Good Care Guideis undoubtedly challenging to care providers who will need to monitor and respond to customer opinion. But with more and more care likely to be funded privately, it will also provide care homes with invaluable customer feedback which will enable them to improve their offering and grow their businesses.
One of the thing’s the Internet does well is to allow us to share information with each other. If it is to take off, Good Care Guide needs to inspire our steadily growing community of carers to share their experiences, good and bad, for the benefit of those who follow behind them. I hope it does.
For more information, visit http://www.goodcareguide.co.uk/