The research suggesting the important role of shared experiences was reiterated in two consumer workshops, run by Adelaide-based multi platform media company DPS in 2017, that brought together real aged care and disability consumers to share their very real stories and experiences with the aim of creating change.
It was the findings of these workshops that the nation’s first aged care Consumer Ratings, which is currently piloting throughout Australia, was developed.
Stuart Austin, UX Designer with DPS, led the consumer workshops and says the subsequent development of the Consumer Ratings initiative will make a difference to consumers now and into the future because they can “bridge the gap” of missing information that currently exists.
“We have spent a significant amount of time researching and understanding our consumers in the aged care and disability sectors, and we now know the types of people that are looking for care, how they typically go about this and the types of environments they find themselves in.
“Our consumer workshops involved real consumers and their varying situations and we quickly learnt that the ‘word of mouth’ concept was a very important one.
“Basically the biggest way that people currently get a feel for a particular facility or service is to talk to other people that have interacted with or are currently at it.
“They also rely on the guidance of professionals such as nurses or GP’s for example, that work in the industry and can recommend good facilities and businesses.”
Mr Austin adds that the importance of understanding certain aspects of a facility was also raised in the consumer workshops - such as if a nursing home had a particular smell, or if the notice boards are updated, or the quality of food and special events - all of these things serving to give “tangible insights” from which a decision can be made.
“As a consumer, if I can get valid insights about particular aspects of a facility of service from particular ratings and reviews, that is the equivalent of talking to a friend or professional that has direct insight to said facility or service,” he says.
“In particular, if I am able to understand things like culture, or internal management, or quality of food or extra-curricular activities, I’ll be able to get a pretty quick idea about whether I’d like to send my parents, or myself, there.
“By introducing the consumer ratings and review that DPS have planned, we are effectively introducing a layer of transparency to the entire industry, which ultimately helps consumers make decisions and providers to get in touch with their market.
“This helps the entire industry move forward as consumers are able to proactively research and discover facilities or services that meet their needs, thereby reducing the stress levels and frustration commonly experienced.
“As consumers can bypass having to engage directly with facilities or service professionals in the first instance, they will save large amounts of time as well and also find that comparing multiple facilities or services becomes much easier with ratings and reviews, as opposed to trawling websites, brochures or other information.”
Following the completion of the pilot, a review will be conducted by DPS, with a full official launch to follow.