An NHS manager hopes to improve national care standards by launching what she says is the first live, independent ratings website for care homes.
Emma Challans is general manager of the orthopaedics and trauma clinical service unit at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals Foundation Trust.
Ms Challans said she was driven to set up the Care Home Advisor website after observing first hand over the past 12 years the “really difficult” decisions that people faced about entering the care sector when leaving NHS facilities.
She said information provided by the Care Quality Commission’s registration system did not have the “sensitivity” that people often needed when trying to decide where to stay or where to place an older relative. Equally, while social workers provided lists of homes to choose from, they were not allowed to offer an opinion on which homes were good and which bad.
Ms Challans has been working with a colleague on the project for the last 12 months in her own time and plans to launch it at the end of this month.
Every care home in the UK will have a page on the free-to-use website, which residents and their friends and relatives will be able to comment on and rate. The public will be asked to share comments and provide a star rating on a home reflecting factors such as dignity and respect, cleanliness, clinical care, communication, food and cost.
She told Nursing Times she hoped the site would provide “rich information first hand that will hopefully help people” while also acting as a “catalyst to help improve standards and quality in care homes”.
She said she also hoped it would benefit the NHS by helping patients and their relatives to make decisions “sooner rather than later” on care homes, potentially reducing bed days.
While other sites exist that pull together CQC reviews and information from care home providers themselves, Ms Challans believes hers is the only portal that provides purely independent ratings based on general public feedback.
She said: “Ratings will be based purely on independent feedback from the general public and not that of CQC or care home provided guidance and information. Although we will provide a link to access these reports, the ratings will not be based on them.”