A sector in crisis: a systematic analysis of care home websites in Lancashire, UK

Back in 2022 I conducted some research into the digital marketing practices of care homes in Lancashire, UK. Such is the slow pace of academic publishing, I have decided to publish what I found here on my website (July 2024), in the hope that authorities might use this report as a motivator for change. While some of the examples I found in 2022 have been updated, I notice that many still have not changed some two years later. This is incredibly worrying, especially given the legal ramifications, and impact on patient choice.


This paper assesses the extent of the digital disparity among care homes in the UK, using the county of Lancashire as a pilot region in which to gain some insight into the state of digital marketing among care homes more broadly.

Data for this study was compiled in the period January–February 2022. Of 514 homes investigated, 88 (17%) were found to have closed down. Of the 426 homes still in operation, only 297 (69.7%) have an active working website. Numerous issues were identified, including: extremely dated websites, an overabundance of stock imagery, a lack of news updates and incorrect information. Some homes even advertise contact details linking to personal email addresses, or emails associated with other businesses – posing a major risk in terms of data protection.

There were also several major regulatory issues identified. Of the homes with a working website, 20.2% had some issue with the display of their Care Quality Commission (CQC) status. Issues ranged from broken CQC integration to a lack of dynamic rating that updates in real-time. Most critical of all is the fact that 31 (10.4%) of homes surveyed had no CQC link at all.

In response to these challenges, this paper recommends regulators take steps to ensure that homes are required to include their dynamic rating on their website. This paper also argues that it should be a mandated part of regulatory compliance that care homes be required to run and maintain an active and up-to-date website as part of their duty of care to residents and their families, and to support consumer choice.

Keywords: care homes, nursing homes, website, digital marketing, CQC, compliance

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