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‘Care comparison sites have not damaged providers’ business’

Providers’ fears that care comparison sites would damage their business appear to have been unfounded; but some are not taking advantage of the opportunities such sites offer to promote their services and receive constructive feedback on them, argues Stephen Burke of the site Good Care Guide.

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When we launched Good Care Guide earlier this year, some care providers and their associations feared that it would damage their business. Eight months on those fears about the ‘trip adviser’ for care seem unfounded.
 
More than seven out of eight reviews left on the site by families using care have been positive. But older people’s care providers – care homes and home care agencies – have had more negative reviews than childcare providers (nurseries and nanny agencies).  
Analysis of the first 1,500 reviews left on the site shows that 94% of feedback about childcare was ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ based on users’ experiences of quality of care, facilities/cleanliness and value for money. Only 1% of childcare reviewers rated services as ‘poor’ or ‘bad’. On the older people’s care side, 81% of reviewers rated services as good or excellent but more services -14% – were rated ‘poor’ or ‘bad’.
The reviews show that families are passionate about care they use. They love their care and are very positive – or they have had a bad experience. Very few reviews are ‘average’.
Older people’s services rated worse than childcare
The analysis also raises questions about why care homes and home care agencies have had more poor reviews than childcare providers. Clearly there are issues about the way older people’s care is funded and commissioned. And there are cultural issues about how we view the start of life compared to the end of life.
 
But there has also been a difference between the way childcare providers have engaged with the site compared to providers of care for older people. Many nurseries have seen Good Care Guide as a chance to engage parents using their service and encourage feedback. They have also responded constructively to comments left on the site. Just one example: see reviews and responses for Reflections nursery in Worthing
Defensive providers
On the other hand some older people’s care providers have been defensive. They have not embraced new technology, transparency and the opportunities to promote their service. Sites like Good Care Guide are part of the future that care providers need to take on board. Media coverage increasingly shows that care providers can’t close their doors and hide from view. Good providers have nothing to fear from this exposure.
At the heart of Good Care Guide lies the idea that families should be able to make informed decisions about care they need and the belief that sharing experiences online will help improve the quality of care in Britain. The best providers show the value of good care to families. But there is still some way to go to ensure that older people’s care is valued as much as childcare.
Burke,-Stephen.gif Stephen Burke is director of Good Care Guide and United All Ages, a social enterprise that promotes intergenerational support for families.

Editor’s note: Good Care Guide is one of a number of care comparison sites that enable service users to post reviews of services they have received support from. Others include:- 

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Mithran Samuel

About Mithran Samuel

Mithran Samuel is adults' editor at Community Care.

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2 Responses to ‘Care comparison sites have not damaged providers’ business’

  1. ben black 12 April , 2013 at 3:22 am #

    Hi Debbie
    I think there are a couple of reasons for the difference:

    Firstly the childcare industry, and actually nurseries especially, are generally better funded than their care home counterparts. Money has been pumped into teh childcare sector in ways that the (elder)care sector can only dream of. As Stephen says that probably reflects the West’s obsession with the young rather than the old..

    And secondly the nature of the users is different. Parents at the nursery gate form quite a social group and much easier and more natural for a nursery owner to ask them to post reviews/spread the word..
    Ben