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This blog post was published under the 2010-2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Raising the profile of good care

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Should DH be investing in a national comparison/user feedback tool for care homes and home care on NHS Choices when several external websites already do similar things?  I think they should.


What is different about these online quality profiles for care providers is they are free to fill in and give every Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered care provider, including supported living and shared lives schemes, an equal chance to tell people why they should choose their service over others in the area (most existing websites offer some form of advantaged service if the provider subscribes).

A very small, peaceful three resident care home might well be perfect for Mr Smith, whilst a large and lively fifty bed home with daily entertainment could be more Mrs Jones’ cup of tea.  People need more than just basic information about the services on offer to make the right choices for them.

Providers who are proud of their reputation for quality are using their profiles to show how they perform against key quality measures, such as timely homecare visits; a stable and well trained workforce; and pressure care and fall management. People are also now starting to post ratings and reviews to the profiles so others can benefit from their experiences.

The icing on the cake will come when CQC start awarding their new quality ratings for care providers. As soon as these are available they will appear on the profiles. The ratings will directly reflect what service users think of a service – no provider will be rated outstanding unless the information collected from users and carers about their experiences matches that view.

The profiles should be good news for local councils too. If they can encourage a majority of local providers to add their information to the system they will be able to rely on the profiles as a comprehensive, trusted source of information about registered care in the area. This leaves them free to focus their efforts on local people's wider social care information needs and directories of unregistered care in the area.

If you are a CQC registered care provider, then type in your postcode here  to find your organisation’s basic profile. You can also email the NHS Choices Service Desk: to request your login details. Councils, meanwhile, can contact them for help with completing their profiles.

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  1. Comment by Myfanwy Scrivener posted on

    If they are REGISTERED providers, then they should be compelled to enter their details as a condition of registration.

  2. Comment by Riekie posted on

    Good Idea, wonder what ohter countries have in place. South Africa?

  3. Comment by Roger Wharton posted on

    Dear Karen

    I think they should. NHS Choices should be the one stop shop comparison website for social care providers which is designed to support the public when choosing a care home and Local Authority and NHS/CCG commissioners when managing contracts. Trip Adviser style comparison websites are all very well but they are unregulated and each will have their own code of practice for vetting and analysing entries. We need a system that is consistent, can be relied upon and, above all, free. Any suggestion that providers may have to pay a subscription to enhance their entry would undermine the overall effectiveness of the site.

  4. Comment by S Coutts posted on

    The West London Alliance have been spearheading a website called CarePlace. This has a public function, allowing the provider to create their own profile and detail the services they offer. There is also a back-office function which enables Local Government Authorities to see whether the provider has any available spaces, which has had a significant impact on effectively placing people into care homes.

    At the moment this is being rolled out across London - perhaps this needs to be extended across the UK?

  5. Comment by Karen Dooley posted on

    Cheers for the comments - Myfanwy, unfortunately, we do not have any powers which would compel providers to add information, but I know CQC indicated in their recently published "A Fresh Start" that one of the things they may look for when considering whether or not a provider might be awarded an 'outstanding' rating was if they completed their profiles and added performance against transparency measures. Hopefully that will provide further incentives for providers.

    Riekie - I haven't been able to find a comparable system used internationally. Did you suggest South Africa as you thought they might have one? If anyone knows of any I would be really interested to see them.

    Roger - great to read your endorsement. It is quite a fine line to tread to keep the information on profiles primarily for public consumption, but at the same time to attempt to use it also as a means through which local authorities/contract managers can monitor quality. I suspect we will go through a few iterations until we get that right, but yes that is definitely the vision. LAs can already take the data (and comments) via API and manipulate it in anyway they see fit to help them locally - be that in contract management, gathering intelligence to pass to local Healthwatch on people's experiences of care or maybe even as intelligence to help them in their future market shaping roles. I think that side of the work (the fact that the system attempts to gather the data once but then make widely available via API for other data specialists to use) opens up a whole range of possibilities. But first, we need a good majority of providers to add their info! I see you are from a local care provider membership org - if we can do anything to support you and your local providers let me know.