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This week, the BBC has run a story concerning the launch of a website called the Good Care Guide. The aim of the website is to give relatives a central hub to share their views and experiences from the care homes and nurseries they have used or had experiences with.
We have seen these types of review websites for businesses before. For example there’s Trip Advisor, Yelp, Qype and Ciao. Generally speaking, reviews are given on things like bars, restaurants, hotels, holiday destinations, products and so on and so forth. However, when it comes to care, is this a complete different kettle of fish, or should care providers be subject to the same reviews and scrutiny as businesses within the leisure and hospitality industries?
In the age of web 2.0, where the social world is playing an ever increasing role on the Internet, comment is inherently a good thing. We learn and understand from others, which provides us with additional information around a website, a web page, a story, a product, and a service. No longer do we take something we see and read on the Internet at face value; we are able to gauge what others are thinking, and form our own opinions accordingly.
This is a good thing, as it is opening up what is a seemingly linear communication process; and as the Internet evolves, whether businesses like or not, people will be able to talk more and share their views. That’s why the majority of businesses have embraced social media and taken advantage of people’s comments as it adds value, not only to their website, but to their business and the services they offer as a whole.
However, there are those who are hell-bent on ruining review based platforms, and using it as a way of deliberately writing disparaging comments about competitors. This is where care providers are understandably concerned. The Chief Executive of the National Care Association, Sheila Scott explained, “If a care home is ruined by a malicious comment, which is conceivably possible, then it’s not just our member and their staff but the vulnerable people who are put at real risk, so that’s our concern.”
Effectively then, care home providers are worried that if they receive a bad review, or two, then this will stop additional care seekers from using their services. This reduces the amount of funding they receive, which ultimately can put staff and vulnerable people at risk.
However, as mentioned, businesses are able to improve on their services if someone has left a genuinely bad review. This is the effect that communication can have. Businesses don’t want to see bad reviews, it looks bad. So, by improving their customer service, or the value of what they are offering their customers, they are able to improve and blossom. So, why shouldn’t care providers do the same?
Well for many parents and relatives, they believe this is a good thing. In the past they would have received advice and opinions from friends and family; the Good Care Guide provides them with a platform to not only read friend’s and family’s opinions, but those of many other people as well. As a result, it will help drive up standards. A genuinely bad review presents care providers with an opportunity to improve on their own services. They can also contact the individual and work towards resolving the problem they had or are having.
If there are concerns over false reviews and spam messages, then the Good Care Guide could follow in the footsteps of Trip Advisor who are able to detect such erroneous comments and remove them. Also on Trip Advisor, users are given a quality rating themselves, and so this should be something that the Good Care Guide should implement, if they aren’t already doing so.
So far the Good Care Guide has received some 80% of extremely positive comments, and so for good care providers they have nothing worry about. However, this website may just be the catalyst to help improve those providers who some families have question marks over. After all, when it comes to care, we always want what’s best for our loved ones.