Care providers reviewed on website
Reviews of childcare and care for the elderly can now be checked online in the same way that hotels can be researched on TripAdvisor, thanks to the launch of a new website called the Good Care Guide.
An independent searchable database at www.goodcareguide.co.uk gives people the opportunity to rate care homes, home care, nurseries and nanny agencies in England.
It has information on almost 60,000 care home, home care and childcare providers, allowing individuals to rate providers for their quality of care, facilities and value for money, as well as make positive or negative comments.
There is nowhere else on the internet to find information about both childcare and care for the elderly and comment on it. In contrast, it is easy to find reviews of hotels and restaurants, which are often based on one-off visits.
The people behind the website say it will provide "real, honest feedback on what is available" in the care sector, and aims to improve transparency and quality of care by giving families a say, following media coverage and public concerns about the quality of services.
They say the website will "help drive up the standards of care due to greater scrutiny".
However, there are fears that the website may cause damage to the reputations of providers if people post false reviews and give certain care providers a bad name for no reason.
Sheila Scott, chief executive of the National Care Association, told the BBC: "If a care home is ruined by a malicious comment, which is conceivably possible, then it's not just our member and their staff but the vulnerable people who are put at real risk, so that's our concern."
The Good Care Guide has been developed over the last year by My Family Care and United for All Ages, both of which are organisations which work in childcare and elderly care with experience of advising families.
Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and a number of national charities also helped in its development. The Good Care Guide lists all registered group childcare settings (Ofsted) and care homes and home care agencies (CQC) in England.