Care users are increasingly online, are you?
The internet of support
The Care Act will drive profound changes to social care over time. However in the meantime the market needs to find better ways of connecting with consumers and the general public needs a clearer means of identifying good care providers in their local area. After all, the fact that adult social care in the UK is under increasing pressure is indisputable. How can social care budgets being cut by £4.6bn in conjunction with an ageing population constitute anything less than a crisis? Changing the whole model of social care so individuals can better support themselves is more than a priority, it is a necessity.
The care sector is changing and providers who don’t evolve in line with user’s needs will quickly be left behind. For example, data from the Office of National Statistics shows that internet use more than tripled for those aged 65 and older between 2006 to 2013, with many turning to the web for banking shopping, entertainment, healthcare and communications. When the time comes, this generation of silver surfers is unlikely to seek you out in the Yellow Pages. Rather they’re likely to search for and find what they need online. If you don’t have a web presence then they’ll take their business elsewhere.
Furthermore, it is often the children of those in need of support who play an active role in sourcing and managing appropriate care solutions. These children might live far away and simply know nothing about care services readily available, situated locally to the parent or relative that they are supporting. They won’t have access to the local newspaper or message boards, so will rely on the information that they can access via the internet.
Given the choice I believe people will increasingly want to search, purchase and evaluate their own care products and services in much the way they would a major purchase such as a car or holiday, looking at what is available, before purchasing from a trusted supplier online. However, if this is to work in the social care market then it’s vital that all providers, no matter their size, have the opportunity to be involved. For this reason I believe e-commerce marketplaces that enable all suppliers to compete on an even footing are the way forward.
This is exactly what we at Salvere and cloudBuy are looking to provide with www.mycaresupermarket.com, which is currently signing-up suppliers before launching to the public later this year. The website will make social care far more accessible by simply putting everything in one place: a wheelchair, a fulltime carer or even just someone to talk to for ten minutes in the morning. For elderly users it will provide them with an opportunity to regain their independence and purchase services themselves as opposed to depending on the council to find services for them. While for younger family members it will make it easier to play an active role in ensuring their relative is cared for. However, we need as many providers as possible to sign-up in order to offer the widest possible array of products and services.
I sincerely hope this initiative helps care providers to be more profitable while also making it easier for people to access the care and support they need to remain independent in their own homes. Please do get in touch if you’d like to be part of it or visit www.mycaresupermarket.com.