Most caregivers involved with home care services would be inclined to dialogue with other caregivers in an online forum or social networking site, according to a  survey, How the Web and new social media have influenced the home care decision-making process, from Walker Marketing, Inc.

Furthermore, 91% of caregivers would be likely to conduct research after receiving a provider referral by a professional source; while 78% would rely on a physician for recommendations, caregivers ultimately make their own decisions on long-term care providers. Websites are generally considered highly credible by caregivers, and are important sources of information for engaged caregivers on sources for long-term care.

The most credible sources are unbranded websites, favored by 4 in 5 caregivers, which educate consumers on long-term care options.

Walker Marketing, a communications agency, has a large portfolio of work in long-term care, senior living, and home care.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:   In the economically-developed world, the demographic phenomenon of aging populations, coupled with few younger “replacements” coming into the workforce, is setting the stage for a health system breakdown. The good news: the population is aging fast, based on people living longer. In developed countries, though, fertility rates are falling.

In the U.S., beginning January 1, 2011 until December 31, 2029, a baby boomer will turn 65 years of age every 8 seconds. So in addition to the expected primary care shortage, informal caregivers will also be in short supply. They/we will need to re-engineer how ‘avocational’ care is done.

This study recognizes the central role of providers in recommending long-term care sources. However, the growing role of online caregiver forums and social networks is empowering caregivers who are largely the influencing consumers for their parents, extended family and aging friends in their off-line lives. Online social networks will be crucial sources of both information and support for caregivers, who will be stretched for time, energy and knowledge.