You would have thought that I would know exactly what to do when thinking about social care for my parents. OK, they live in Yorkshire and I live in London, but after all, I'm the Chief Executive of the body that unearths good practice in social care, and then tells everyone about it. Easy? Not so fast; even for me the system can appear mystifying.
Today we launch Find Me Good Care. It is time for people who use services, and their carers, to have their own site where they can access good, reliable and comprehensive information about care and support. I say "and support" because it is not just about older people in care homes, important though that group is. It could be that someone needs just a little help in their home to cope with everyday tasks. The new service is a website which will mean that you can put your postcode in and find out what is going on in your area. And with a growing number of providers of services signing up, you can leave comments about your experience.
We have heard, again and again, from all sorts of people who say that they find the social care system "mystifying". People like Vanessa, who wanted to provide dignity and independence for her mother, but who was worried, so she rang to buy in some "emergency care"; only to discover that such a thing does not exist. She was told she needed an assessment, and that was a challenge because it was a Saturday night! So, the site will help people to understand the diverse and complex care and support system, the options available and the issues they should consider when choosing care and support for themselves or others.
So, is it a Trip Advisor for social care? To some extent, but it is so much more. The starting point will be information to help you take those first steps in navigating a complex and sometimes bewildering system. Perhaps you are suddenly plunged into a crisis and need care in a hurry? Or maybe, like me, you are thinking of planning for the future for your parents? Or even changing care like those families whose child may have a learning disability and who is transferring to services for adults?
Yes, you will be able to leave comments; but those comments will be moderated and providers given a chance to respond. We want to support improvement in care and support services and make sure the information will be relevant to those who are searching for good care and support.
I am confident that Find Me Good Care will also be helpful for people who provide services, because they will have feedback from their customers. That feedback will help Find Me Good Care to play its part in improving care and support services.
Try it out. It is free to use. If you have a nagging doubt that you would not know what to do when the time comes, I invite you to give our service a try. I know I will, because my parents deserve the best.