Sometimes, it can be difficult to know what goes into building a website, let alone one that deals with providing care and caring for someone in the last months and days of their life. The project team has just had an article published that tells the story of what lies behind the CarerHelp website.
CarerHelp was the result of a multiphase set of activities that started with the evidence from research, the lived experience of carers and a review of existing resources and web content. Guidance for the project was provided by a national reference group and the build phase relied on best practice processes in website development.
The first activities involved a review of the published national and international research to understand the needs of family carers of patients with advanced disease and a scoping scan for existing online resources that could be promoted and used. Interviews and focus groups with family carers clarified what they thought was essential information as well as their perceptions on using the internet and how best to present information. Once these information needs had been summarised, the job of creating the architecture and content of the website began.
The preliminary content architecture was based on information needs identified by the reviews and interviews. Both the reviews and carer feedback spoke to the importance of recognising and preparing for caring at the end of life, managing care during dying, and support for grief and bereavement. The challenge of changing information needs over the caring period led to the proposal to have carer pathways that highlighted different content and resources. The need for different and specific information also led to the idea of a library of carer resources. Technical issues such as meeting accessibility requirements, developing page templates, and determining graphic design for the site also had to be negotiated.
Once a website takes shape it is important that it is tested before it is launched. We undertook two types of testing – usability assessment which aims to identify design or build errors and user testing to ensure that the intended users of the resource can find and respond to the content. Before release we also needed to ensure content was tagged and organised to help achieve easy retrieval through search engines. A process to track web use also needed to be set in place to understand what content was being used and how frequently.
The free to access jounal article reports in detail on how we went about developing and delivering the CarerHelp website. We believe it is important to share the work underlying the website so that families and carers using the site can feel confident in the quality of information being provided.
You can find out more by reading: Who cares for the carers? CarerHelp: development and evaluation of an online resource to support the wellbeing of those caring for family members at the end of their life