A rating system


By Leon A Smith
June 14, 2013
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This week has seen debate/government proposals regarding the scoring of hospital departments and consultants in order that one can make an informed decision when “shopping” for a consultant and/or a hernia operation! Many of the medical profession are against this as they feel there are so many factors to be taken into consideration that making “like for like” comparisons very difficult. We are all familiar with school league tables and in the spirit of transparency and openness league tables of schools and a vast range of other sectors are now de rigueur.

Historically the care home sector has been subject to care home ratings which were administered by the National Regulator, the Care Quality Commission. The maximum was a 3-star rating which was accompanied by a narrative of “Excellent” – similar to an OFSED rating of “Outstanding” for a school. The star rating concept was then dropped by the Care Quality Commission, who felt that it was not a helpful system to have. Care providers who had not been entirely happy with the rating scheme were however very disappointed when it as removed and nothing was put in its place. The National Health Service/Care Quality Commission have now introduced a new system of profiles which will be on an NHS Choices website which provides the “shopper” with a profile of the particular care provider. There was also talk of making this facility available to users a-la Trip Advisor and Expedia so that users can make their own personal comments on their experiences. Occasionally I have booked into a hotel and then decided to have a look at users ratings – and wished I hadn’t done so! ie looking forward to a holiday for which I have booked, paid and committed, knowing that somebody in Sunderland had a negative and traumatic experience during their sojourn in particular hotel in a particular town in Greece!

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens regarding care homes. Those of us working in the care home sector could of course spend all of our free time encouraging our friends and families to write incredibly positive things about our homes and this might serve to counter any negative comments that any of our users may wish to make. What is not yet clear is what sort of arbitration or adjudication in relation to any comments that users may decide to leave will be put in place.

Ultimately we can read what we like into league tables, website reviews, or ratings. We will never really know how good or bad a service is until we actually use it ourselves. Perhaps the best way of getting a true understanding of what a hotel, restaurant or care home is like, is either by asking our trusted friends for their experience and/or indeed trying the service for oneself The problem is that even asking friends can be problematic. I may go to a restaurant and have the most wonderful meal but you may go the following week and feel that the meal was absolutely awful, the service was terrible and that it was a totally negative experience Part of it is luck. Part of it is subjectivity.

At Nightingale Hammerson we strive to provide the best possible care for our reisdents. Most of the time we succeed. Sometimes we do not. Sometimes we make mistakes or fall short of the high standards which we set ourselves. All we can do however, is strive to do the very best - which we do conscientiously and energetically. If we do slip up from time to time it is doesn’t mean that we are offering a bad service – it simply means that we are human. The important thing is that most of our users, most of the time, are very happy with the experience which they have. This has to be far more important and of interest to us than scores or league tables.

One of the problems of having meaningful scores or ratings which have been inputted by users is that different people have differing criteria. For example, for some people the most important thing in a care home might be the food, for others it might be the activities. For some it might be the size of their room. Each chooses their own criteria which, in turn, forms their opinion of the service. One person’s first class care home might be another’s moderate or average care home. I believe that the proof is in the pudding. If anybody out there is looking for a care home. Give us a try! If you and/or a relative are considering residential or nursing care come to us for a week’s respite and rest – and see what you make of it. It’s only truly on that basis that you will be able to make an informed judgement.

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