Using Online Reviews in Social Care



The emphasis placed on choice of social care provider means that there is an increasing need to furnish service users with reliable and up-to-date information on provider quality. In England, encouraging users to leave online feedback on providers is seen as one of the ways of improving the supply of information. However, using these channels for social care raises a number of issues, for example, the challenge of generating enough content to be of value, and the need to protect the anonymity of potentially vulnerable users. This article aims to summarize these issues, by drawing upon the experience of an established ratings site (TripAdvisor), and of heath service rating systems, as well as literature on decision-making and behaviour across social care and related sectors. The article concludes that online ratings can assist users to choose providers, however, they will need to be supported by carefully designed processes to maximize their usefulness.