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Care Companion - an online platform to support the resilience and well-being of family carers

The study was completed in September 2022.

We developed Care Companion because many carers say that they need more information to help them cope with the responsibility of caring for a loved one. Care Companion was launched in 2018 as a free-to-use online resource, to address this need. We worked with local authorities, NHS providers, third sector organisations and charities to raise awareness across Coventry and Warwickshire of Care Companion’s availability and tried to make it as accessible as possible to anyone with caring responsibilities for an older person.

Our research, funded by the National Institute of Health and Care Research, set out to discover how Care Companion is being used and the difference this makes. Our panel of carers helped us design the research and make sense of the findings, and our research team included members of the public who are experienced carers.

The study was conducted during the Covid-19 pandemic, a time when carers were particularly isolated and lacking in support. We spoke to 30 carers who had registered with Care Companion and 13 individuals who work for organisations involved in promoting its use to carers. We also worked with 14 general practices to invite people they knew to be carers to join the study. 63 carers completed our initial survey and 33 completed the follow-up survey.

We found that the number of people who registered with Care Companion was far fewer than expected, and most registered users only visited the site once or twice. Reasons for lack of use included:

  • Misunderstanding about its purpose
  • Low expectation that an online resource like Care Companion will be of personal benefit
  • Lack of time and effort required to use it
  • Does not provide practical support and social contact
  • Carers already had established systems for data recording/appointments/finding information etc

We also found mixed levels of commitment from NHS and social care organisations to actively promote Care Companion to individual carers and clients. In part, this reflected service pressures during the pandemic and the time organisations had available.

We have used our findings to make suggestions about how future online services could work better for carers.

For more information, please see links below.

If you have queries on this completed study please contact Prof Jeremy Dale.

jeremy dot dale at warwick dot ac dot uk