Should care providers be ranked like hotels?

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21 December 2011

Should care providers be ranked like hotels?

Customer review websites are common place on the internet.  Many of us will not book a holiday without first checking a resort’s ranking on Tripadvisor; we won’t buy anything off eBay from a seller with a user ranking of less than 95% and we may even choose not to sit through a movie which scores less than seven out of ten on IMDB.

So the recent announcement that the government is planning to introduce a “Tripadvisor style” website which will rate the UK’s various care providers is, on the face of it, very exciting news.

The plan is that users will be able to rate the care that they, or their loved ones, have received either in a residential care home or in their own home.  Any allegations of neglect or mistreatment could then form the basis for investigation by the Care Quality Commission.  Although, it should be emphasised that no details of how the site will be run, or who will run it, have yet been made public.

This will be the first time that a single database of English care providers has been created; it is something that should have been done years ago and  has the potential greatly improve standards of care across the country.

That is, as long as it is done properly…

Tripadvisor, Ebay and IMDB are gigantic international websites which have been around for years and receive vast amounts of web traffic every month, meaning that the impact of people cynically abusing the system is diluted.  Even so, there are many reports within the hospitality industry of hotel operators artificially inflating scores as well as customers threatening a negative review unless they receive a discount.

With the best will in the world, any UK care focused website will be small in comparison to these colossal sites, and therefore the potential to abuse the system will be much increased – if a care home only had ten reviews the impact of one fake one would be significant.  If the system is going to work properly it needs to be trusted by the users and so those responsible for the site’s implementation need to find a way to make it easy to use, but difficult to abuse – easier said than done.

As report after report reviles the way that the most vulnerable in our society are cared for, all reputable care providers are united in the belief that something must be done to ensure that bad care practises are stopped and the worst care providers are closed down.  Innovative solutions, such as this new website, can definitely help in this battle and so, despite our concerns about how it may be implemented, we are very much in favour of this new site and look forward to learning more about how it will work.

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