What is the added value of an adviser when there is so much care home information available online?
When Carehome Selection was first established in 1995, the main reason for our service was the lack of information available about care homes. There was no single source of information for families making such an important decision and the web was at an early stage of development.
Families came to Carehome Selection and valued our service because we bridged this information gap, providing details about thousands of care homes and helping people step-by-step through their care home choice.
Today, in a sense, we have the opposite situation. There is seemingly limitless information online ‘ care homes are listed for each area and many have their own glossy websites. There are also many websites which offer free advice and information about different aspects of choosing and funding long term care.
So, now there is no ‘gap’, where does this leave our service; a service which remains based on the same principle of an adviser helping you through the process? Indeed, what can an adviser tell you that you can’t find out for yourself online?
Many of the families we work with have been online extensively and have reached a point of information overload. They have gathered a lot of facts and data from the web but are struggling to make sense of it.
The analogy I often use is the comparison to choosing a school for your child. There is now sufficient data online including results and a whole range of detailed statistics which enable you to compare different schools thoroughly and methodically. But given a chance to speak to a pupil or parent of a pupil at that school, who would pass on that opportunity for an ‘insider’s perspective’?
Our advisers are in a similar position ‘ most of them have worked for us for many years and know the care homes because they have helped clients who went there. They will not only have visited homes many times, but also followed up placements to find out how individuals are settling in and enjoying the homes’ facilities.
Advisers know care homes beyond the impressions carefully presented in glossy brochures; knowing the homes which perhaps appear more dated but have a local reputation for great personal care, for example. Our advisers know the details which can make a big difference in a placement being a happy one, such as activities and commitment to supporting a hobby, such as gardening. These sorts of details are insights only developed through the experience of many years; rarely are they to be found online.
Advisers are very helpful in many different situations which can make the choice of long term care more complex. For example, if:
- you need dementia care, particularly if there is challenging behaviour;
- if you are looking for a care home for a married couple with different needs;
- if you live a distance from your relative and lack knowledge of the area where you are looking for care;
- if you are self-funding and find there is little or no support available from social workers because you do not qualify for local authority funding.
Very often, people find choosing and arranging care for a relative an overwhelming responsibility. Indeed, people from all walks of life find the experience challenging and complex. I recently worked with a doctor who works in the field of dementia care. She told me that despite her professional knowledge, when faced with a decision for one of her own parents, she was unsure what to do or where to start.
Without a doubt, the internet is a positive tool in the search for long term care. However, we find many people become overwhelmed with information ‘ at a time when they are already feeling overwhelmed emotionally about what they are facing. So the role of the adviser today is certainly changed but remains vitally important.
The adviser’s role today is less about bridging an information gap; more about helping people to navigate through a large amount of information and make sense of it from the personal point of view of their relative and their unique needs and preferences.