When did you last use a brochure to choose a holiday? For most of us it’s probably a long time ago. These days, for holidays, restaurants, consumer goods and all sorts of other things people look to the internet to help them decide what to buy and what services to use. Welcome to the future of domiciliary care. And consumer choice is just one way that the internet is shaping the future for home care providers.
The government and the CQC are absolutely clear about the role that technology will play in helping people make informed choices – and how this will help drive up care standards. You may not agree with them and the system probably won’t be perfect, but it’s inevitable and it’s already happening. Already potential care users and their families can look up the NHS and CQC websites to see whether providers meet the Essential Standards. It seems that plans may go further and include quality star ratings and user reviews on official websites. There are also a number of independent review and rating sites springing up.
Yours is an On-line Home Care Business
As a home care business you may never have seen the internet as particularly important. Your focus, quite rightly has been on providing the best quality care you can. But these days we are all on-line businesses whether we like it or not. Your experience with the internet may have been limited to creating a simple website so people can find and contact you; but increasingly it’s not how we use the internet but how our potential customers choose to use it that matters.
You Can’t Ignore Social Media
Some home care businesses are getting more involved with social media tools like Twitter and Facebook. They recognise that these tools can raise the profile of their business, help them get found on Google and provide an informal network with care workers, care users and their families. There are many benefits to be gained from embracing technology. There are also downsides if you’re not engaged and don’t know what people might be saying about you.
One thing is for sure, give or take the odd rogue comment, your online reputation will be a pretty accurate reflection of your care business and the service you offer. You can’t fake quality. But even here the internet provides opportunities for home care businesses to improve the way they operate.
Home care management software
Every home care business now has the opportunity to use cost-effective home care management software. If you choose the right one then monthly staff rosters take a matter of minutes, billing data is created automatically and care workers can access and update current care plans and records while on the road. Mobile internet technology and intelligent software makes all of this really straightforward and affordable.
I’m not sure I’d want to be facing the future with rosters worked out on paper or Excel spreadsheets and where staff have to visit the office to update records on the PC that has the Access database. Service users and commissioners expect more. Because quality of care is so dependent on getting the right carer, with the right skills to the right place and at the right time, investing in the right kind of technology should be central to your quality improvement plans.
The way you run your business and organise your team has a direct impact on the care experienced by service users. Meanwhile, expectations, demands and pressures are going to increase. It’s not going to get any easier. What you can’t ignore is the impact that the internet will have on how your business is perceived and the opportunities it presents for providing better service and better care.
Dan Farrell-Wright, CareForIt Technical Director
At CareForIt we specialise in helping home care businesses use the internet to deliver greater efficiency and better care. Call us on 08455 44 23 11