Online Care Home Reviews - What you need to know about them.
Mark Sadler responds to the CMA’s report about the practices of Carehome.co.uk, Care Opinion and Most Recommended Care (Working Feedback).
All online reviews of care homes are likely to be filtered in some way. Even if it is not obvious at first.
If reviews are collected with feedback cards they are most likely only handed out to people who the care providers expect will give the best feedback.
With feedback cards collected on site, there is potential for negative feedback to be thrown in the bin.
In the past some companies that provide feedback cards do the filtering for the care providers. Those ‘positive only’ reviews are still online.
Even if you can find online reviews of care providers that you believe to be honest, they are in numbers too small to be of any use.
Feedback left on TripAdvisor style websites only attracts extremes of opinion either 5 star or 1 star reviews, people have to feel sufficiently motivated to seek out a place to leave their feedback and people who’ve had a 3 or 4 star experience simply don’t bother.
When reading care home reviews - check the dates.
When review dates are bunched it suggests a special “focus” on reviews by the provider rather than a naturally occurring steady flow.
If you see lots of reviews for a care provider you know the provider has asked people for the feedback, take what you read with an large pinch of salt.
One company survey the residents within the care home and the care home staff administer the survey. It’s worth pointing out at this point that 80% of all care home residents have dementia and most are vulnerable.
Lots of family members and residents refrain from leaving negative comments about care providers because they are fearful of reprisals.
Feedback of care providers is often summarised in a report and positioned on the care providers website next to the CQC report. In my view because the public are more inclined to trust views from ‘people like them’ than they are the government's regulator this is a deliberate attempt to undermine the regulator and mislead the public at a vulnerable time.
Currently, online reviews of care homes are little more than marketing spin.
I welcome the intervention of the CMA in this industry more than most, but I’m aware that they have only just lightly scratched the surface.
The CQC is still the best reference point for anyone looking to assess the likely quality of a care home.
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