What are your #socialcare information needs?

This post was inspired by @daveneenhan following a recent Guardian article about Bromley’s MyLife approach to choice and control. The new portal aims to provide “a route for self-support in adult social care” This was followed by a Twitter discussion about the value of static online Directories of Social Care services which do not encourage or engage with people who use care services to comment or add to the Directory. In fairness to Bromley they are not alone in providing what is basically an online list of local care services. Most local authorities such as Lewisham My Life My Choice have adopted a similar format.

We would love to know about local authorities who are actively using social media channels to inform and engage their residents aboput social care so please do share good practice. A special mention here for Monmouthshire County Council and Helen Reynolds @HelReynolds who have opened up access to social media channels for all their staff and provide excellent case studies of digital engagement.

‘The future for personalisation? service users, carers & digital engagement’ highlighted the urgent need for people to be signposted to relevant information. Research from the Institute for Public Policy at Oxford Brookes University (2011) and Melanie Henwood Associates (2011) suggests that despite the massive investment by local authorities in providing online social care directories the situation has not changed since 2007.

“Time and again, people described the struggle to obtain information, advice or advocacy to help them in making life-changing decisions”.

There are an increasing number of ‘bottom-up’ and community led initiatives that harness the power of the internet to provide information and resources so why are local authorities not using them?

A few examples which are not included in most local authority Directory of Social Care services websites:

Enabled by Design a community of people who are passionate about well-designed, everyday products that challenge the one-size-fits-all approach to assistive equipment. An excellent example of a website that encourages service users with a disability to share information and thoughts about products and services that are improving the quality of people&’s lives. @enabledby

Netbuddy is for swapping practical tips and information on all aspects of supporting people with learning disabilities. The site includes forums and downloadable information packs @netbuddytoptips

Go Genie Making the inaccessible accessible. Crowd-sourced access information for any place any time any where. @go_genie

Chill4usCarers actively uses social media to raise awareness and support for carers. The Carers’ forum provides information, news and views. Chill4usCarers organises Computers4carers which provides free laptops for carers. It also offers a chat room, open 24 hours a day @Chill4usCarers

The Amazings http://theamazings.org/ help people who are about to retire or have retired create amazing experiences with the skills, knowledge and passion they’ve picked up throughout their life. @theamazingsuk

Martyn Sibley has used his personal experiences to create a series of disability webinars interactive sessions providing information to people living with long-term health conditions and disabilities. @martynsibley

This is only a very small sample of the many new and innovative approaches which are being developed to improve social care services. Can you find this information through your local authority website?

We believe that research which actually asks service users & carers about their information and advice needs is required urgently. This is a very important debate and we would love to hear your views!


2 responses to “What are your #socialcare information needs?

  1. Adam Ratliff


    This is a very interesting blog and raises some interesting points. Citizen Portals enable citizens to find the information and advice they need simply and easily, there should be absolutely no reason why the resources highlighted above cannot be included as part of this.

    MyLife for example has been designed so that it can include any featured content and any resource detail into the portal. Citizens and providers have feedback functionality where they can add ideas for improvements and new services additions. Also using google analytics councils like Bromley are reviewing search terms to see if there are any gaps in the information they are providing.

    To find information via public search engines isn’t suitable for citizens, search needs to be tailored so that it does not overload the citizen, and be intelligentenough to provide only the relevant information.

    There needs to be a central place for this service information to be held, we believe that most citizen’s will view this as their local council. Therefore new bottom-up’ and community led initiatives need to see the council as a key promotion channel and contact the council for inclusion on their portals. I am sure that the council will be happy to add all suitable services.

    Technology is an enabler to Personalisation and we agree that transformation in service delivery is crucial. Thousands of people are now using these solutions to find information and advise.

    The relationship between social care portals and social media is an interesting one. Should the council’s create their own social media closed networks (Do they have the resources to manage these) or should they be linking in with pre-existing social media channels.

    We would be interested in creating discussion around this, perhaps we could set up a debate on this Blog?

  2. I’d like to know about people’s views on the usability and evidence (including analytics and user experience) for social care directory sites. I have checked out quite a few and found over 100 results for some searches (e.g. help at home). How many people plough through these, use shortlisting tools and why aren’t I finding sites that publish the user feedback / ratings?

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