One in three worry over care of the elderly

Nearly three-quarters of people are concerned about the care their elderly relatives receive, with many thinking it is substandard, new research has shown.

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A study of reviews left on feedback website the Good Care Guide showed that many people viewed elderly care as needing improvement, with nearly three quarters (71 per cent) of negative reviews on the site directed towards care provided by homecare agencies and care homes.

The Good Care Guide, launched a year ago, works like TripAdvisor, allowing people the chance to find, rate and review care providers.

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An analysis of more than 2,000 reviews – which grouped those with 0-3 stars as negative, and those with 4-5 as positive – revealed concerns for the care elderly people receive, with 71 per cent of negative reviews directed towards homecare agencies and care homes.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of reviews left for homecare agencies rated them as having sub-standard care, with 15 per cent of care homes similarly rated.

The biggest concern for more than 84 per cent of people choosing a care home was cost and quality of care or specialist care, the reviews suggested.

Increasing numbers of families are finding themselves having to choose care homes for elderly relatives as the ageing population means there are increasing
numbers of elderly people needing care for dementia or other conditions which leave them unable to continue living independently. The research is likely 
to be a source of concern for many.

Where care home accommodation is not self-funded, home places can be allocated without choice.

In contrast, the quality of care children receive was rated highly, despite being expensive, with 90 per cent of those who wrote on the site about childcare leaving positive reviews.

But childcare providers were rated low for value for money – eight per cent of childcare reviews were negative specifically about the value for money, with comments including “horrendously expensive”, “costs most of my salary”, and “can’t afford full time childcare”.

Good Care Guide director Denise Burke said: “There are several interesting issues that arise from an analysis of the first 2,000-plus reviews left on Good Care Guide.

“Whilst childcare has consistently been better rated than eldercare, comparing childcare and eldercare is of course a bit like apples and pears – 24/seven care for older people, many with severe dementia, is quite different from nursery care whether it’s for 15 hours or 40 hours a week.

“Worst rated by families on Good Care Guide has been homecare. These services have perhaps been squeezed most by local authority spending cuts.

“Many complain about 15-minute appointments, about different carers turning up or carers who are poorly trained and paid.”

The Good Care Guide website has now undergone a revamp after proving so successful.

Fellow director Ben Black said they started off by launching a simple version of the site: “Once we had proved to ourselves that the need really was as big as we first envisaged then we’d re-launch with a fantastic version of the site and service.

“And I guess, once we saw how big the opportunity was it’s no surprise that the three-month website redesign project became a nine-month one.”

One user praised the site as “invaluable”, saying: “I found Good Care Guide because I had to have a look at two nursing homes that were on offer for a family member who was in hospital and needed to move to 24-hour care on discharge.

“There are not enough people leaving reviews in the public arena. It is so important for people trying to choose the best care to see what a care home or home care agency is really like from people actually using them.

“A care home website is just not a true representation, often using stock images, or only showing the best rooms.

“You need to read the emotional opinions and be aware of the insider views and opinion. This is invaluable.”