Online social care info on council websites poor, latest report reveals

Just 41% of English councils with responsibilities for social care are providing a good or very good service, according to the latest Socitm Better Connected survey.

The results are more concerning given a similar social care survey carried out last year with the same cohort of councils, saw 52% achieving the same levels. However, the report does point out that the decline can be explained by an extension of the test from general provision of information to how it was to find on specific services.

The report says that results have been depressed by poor implementation of social care directories and e-marketplaces. Many councils have invested in these as part of their response to the Care Act, but their usability can fall short, making information about specific services hard to find.

The survey of 152 councils also found that just 24% of the websites made it easy to find providers of personal care services such as dressing and washing, 32% to find gardening or shopping services, and 44% had information on community based social support.

 

Difficulties

As part of their response to the Care Act, most English and Welsh councils have invested in directories of services and providers for ‘self-funders’. But it has proved difficult to make this work well.

Most of these directories are built on third party platforms, with a small minority of councils providing in-house built and maintained directories.

It is fair to say that councils are still finding their way with these directories, not just in terms of their functionality (search, filtering, categories) and the quality, completeness and currency of their contents, but also in the way directories are integrated with the adult social care pages on the main council.gov.uk website.

 

Good examples

The report isn’t all bad news, however – a number of examples of councils providing well implemented and integrated social care directories are included.

Cheshire East, for example, was praised for having one of the best integrated directories the testers had seen. Livewell content is seamlessly integrated with the main site. The directory allows easy filtering to find relevant services. The links into it from main content pages directly link into relevant results. The site can be viewed here.

Other good examples mentioned include Barnsley, Croydon, Herefordshire, Sandwell, Staffordshire; and Wigan.

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