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Protecting Your Reputation In The Care Sector

When something goes wrong in a care home, nursing home or other care environment, the media and even the government view the entire industry with suspicion. It seems like every day there is a new scandal - panicked tabloid headlines about the most vulnerable and needy members of our society being abused by institutions who are responsible for their care and support. After the media uproar over events like the violent treatment of patients at Winterbourne View, we hear the same messages over and over again:

The care industry is broken. Care providers are only in it for the money. They’re all the same.

At the end of the day, whatever kind of organisation you work in, whether it’s a non-profit, charity or business, all you have to trade on is your reputation; what people say about your organisation in particular, and your industry at large.

How do you build a good reputation? Well, providing an exceptional quality service and broadcasting your successes to every corner of the world is a good place to start, but how do you deal with the reputation of your industry? You might have a library of positive testimonials, dedicated staff and satisfied clients, but the overriding messages being blared out across the country about your sector are that providers can’t be trusted and, through no fault of your own, your reputation is damaged by association.

There are four things that a purchaser is looking for: good quality care, a service that meets the individual’s needs, and good risk assessments at a price that is value for money.

Part of the process of marketing your organisation effectively is to acknowledge these potential points of weakness and identify messages and strategies that will combat the distrust and uncertainty that people looking for care might have:
  • Customer Service IS Marketing – Your service users, their family carers and other people involved in decision making are not just people who choose or use the services you offer. They are reporters, and the reports they provide can be as influential to your organisation as any newspaper journalist. If you can make sure that, when someone makes a point of contacting your organisation, they receive personalised, empathic and responsive communications, they will have a great story to tell about you. This brings us onto the next approach to boost your reputation...
  • Using Third Parties to Communicate Your messages – Most of the websites we look at say “We provide a high quality, personalised service” (or something like that). A lot of them don’t have the evidence to support this rhetoric. In the social care arena, a good story about you from a customer can be used in many ways. Online forums, social media, and care directories that invite customer testimonials are commonplace, and well used. For many people searching for services online, personal reviews are the key to deciding on a product or provider; in a world of competing and often similar messages, they hold the highest currency because they are seen to be true. If you work with people who love your service, ask them (politely and charmingly!) to advocate for it. It’s the best word of mouth recommendation you can hope for.
  • Build Trust through Transparency – While we will reserve judgment about the quality of their service here, having a look at the current website for Castlebeck is an excellent illustration of the role of transparency in building a good reputation:
Front and centre of the website is a link named ‘where we are now.’ After the scandal at one of their facilities, Castlebeck are seeking to provide as much information as possible to consumers as to the state of their business and how they have changed. Hopefully you don’t need to implement such radical and aggressive transparency in your business to help with your reputation, but the more you can tell a consumer about what your services entail and their place in it, the more reassured they will be.

We have worked with a wide range of different organisations, and we know that the care sector is filled with dedicated, talented people who really care about making a difference in people’s lives. That’s the message we want to hear, and that’s the story we want to help you tell.
Posted: 07/12/2012 10:39:47 by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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