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On-line information and registration with services: patterns of support for carers in England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalWorking with Older People
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

King's Authors

Abstract

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to ascertain how local authorities and other services are responding to central government strategies to make support for family carers a priority.

Design/methodology/approach - A web based audit of local authority public information was undertaken (n=50) searching for Carers’ Registers and carer related information. The sample covered different parts of England and different local authority types.

Findings - A small minority of local authority websites mention that they operate a Carers’ Register. Overall local authorities offer different resources to carers, ranging from discounts in the local area to access to emergency card registration. Some use online information as a communication channel. Resources, such as emergency cards for carers, can be accessed by different routes. Overall local authority online information for carers is variable in quality, accessibility and purpose. We conclude that growth in the collection of information by primary care services in England risks duplicating some of the functions of local authority activities and their problems. Local commissioning should minimize confusion and make optimal use of carers’ information. Carers should not have to navigate confusing, variable, parallel systems and outreach is needed for those who do not use electronic media, such as some older carers.

Research limitations/implications - This was a small scale study nested within a larger project. It is possible that the websites we interrogated were atypical, although we did take steps to prevent this. Practical implications - Carers are increasingly expected to use websites as a way of gathering information about sources of support but councils vary in the extent to which their websites are informative and easy to navigate. Council information strategies need to consider those carers whose lack of computing skills and/or literacy in written English exclude them from using websites. Practitioners should seek feedback from carers about what information they have found useful.

Originality/value - The main strength of this study is its originality of approach undertaking a specific audit of material that is publicly available and reflecting on a subject that has not previously been explored in the context of information for carers.

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