Councils have set up Amazon-style websites where self-funded adult social care users can browse and purchase care services.
The research, carried out by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think-tank, discovered that a quarter of local authorities have put in place these e-marketplaces in order to meet the key duties in the Care Act. This included providing comprehensive information and guidance and improving in which care is set up and executed.
The think tank identified three key benefits of installing such e-market systems. They help new and small providers to better connect to the market, which creates a more diverse market. They allow the provision of user-tailored services by allowing them to state what they are looking for. They also provide users with more extensive information concerning what services are available.
The report also issued some recommendations to ensure these websites are easy to use.
“Users will use the channel through which it is easiest to find services. To effectively manage demand and enable personalisation, digital services need to be designed around the user journey rather than business needs,” it said in the report.
The report also highlighted that for the websites to be effective a ‘cultural change’ in local government has to happen.
“Simply making services available online will not be enough to facilitate diverse and integrated forms of care.”
They recommend that advisers trust users’ decisions whilst being aware of the possible risks of doing so.