Social media and social care – thoughts for #becomingvibrance

Today I am giving a presentation at the Vibrance staff conference which is celebrating 25 years of supporting people who are disabled to lead their lives as they wish and to challenge barriers that prevent individual choice and fulfilment. You can follow the event on Twitter  @Vibrance2013 

It is always interesting developing a presentation for an unknown audience some of whom may be very confident using social media and others yet to be convinced that it has any value in their day to day lives. There is just so much to share and a post can only provide a snapshot of my thoughts and all the resources available online.

I love discussing the role and impact of digital with front line staff and people who use care services. For me the #Socialnomics 2014 video by Erik Qualman answers a frequently question asked about why people should take social media seriously.

Source data for the statistics in the video is available in the bookSocialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business

Facebook has 1.3 billion accounts

YouTube has 1 billion users and 4 billion view a day

Twitter has 243 million monthly active users

Linkedin has 300 million accounts

Instagram has 200 million users

Source: Digital Marketing Ramblings March 2014

The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 year old age bracket. 189 million users of Facebook are only using mobile devices and 25% of smartphone owners aged 18–44 say they can’t recall the last time their smartphone was not next to them.

Digital technology has already changed our lives drastically in the last 10 years, from the way we shop, the way we communicate, the way we find information and even the way we find love. Social networks provide some of the most powerful tools available today for building a sense of belonging, support and sharing. Technology is redefining how care and support is provided in a digitally connected society and the new @LinkMeUp_UK  website is a great example of this

However one of our biggest challenges is the need a major cultural shift which recognises the role of technology in shaping services which are focused around an individual’s needs and aspirations.

Can online innovation enhance social care? As I found out when I was researching my paper for the Nominet Trust the simple answer is yes!

Information is freely shared through social media. For example Netbuddy encourages the swapping practical tips and information on all aspects of supporting people with learning disabilities @netbuddytoptips

 Enabled by Design is a community of people who are passionate about well-designed, everyday products that challenge the one-size-fits-all approach to assistive equipment. Enabled by Design encourages people to share their views and experiences of assistive equipment and post information, reviews and comments. @enabledby

Gig  Buddies links music fans who have a learning disability with other music lovers.  I really like their social media policy written impressively in less than 140 characters. “Stay Up Late actively embraces social media, staff  are asked to engage, experiment, be relevant and take responsibility.”

Care and support in the 21st century requires much more connected thinking across care services, health, housing, education and employment. Technology and social media can help make this happen.

The true value of digital technology really lies in solving a problem, or otherwise helping to improve the quality of our lives. One of the simplest needs  is the ability to stay in touch with family and friends. Digital technology opens up options and enables that contact to be much more immediate. Introducing people to the concept of emails, picture sharing, social networking, and online video calls, such as Skype has many benefits.

This is especially important when families are widely dispersed and require a simple and easy way of keeping in touch and staying connected – whether they are living at home, in residential care, are in hospital or in different parts
of the world. Feeling connected and having supportive social relationships has a strong link to health and longevity. Encouraging wellbeing is an important social challenge facing society as a whole.

There is considerable debate about the role of digital technology in social care. Understandably there are concerns that the use of technology somehow depersonalises what is often a very personal service. I fully accept that technology is not a magic bullet to address all of the complex problems we are confronting as a society. Digital technology cannot and should not replace human contact, kindness, empathy and understanding. But it does allow people to connect in different ways, quickly and easily. Digital technology and social networks provide some of the most powerful tools available today for building a sense of belonging, support and sharing.

Is social media putting the “social” back into care? Have a look at the many care organisations who now have a Twitter presence including .

There are lots of resources online to help you use social media. The Twitter Help centre provides useful guidance and Mashable have produced the Twitter Guide Book.

Useful tips to guide you in developing your own personal social media policy have been produced by Paul Taylor @paulbromford.

 

Social media is an increasingly crowded space – some simple tools ( at least for me they are as a non techie!) to help you manage your online presence

 

Service users and carers rightly expect more autonomy and choice in how services are provided. Digital leadership, motivating staff and creating a culture where people are empowered to do things differently are crucial elements of good engagement.

As Professor Stephen Hawking said, when accepting his AbilityNet ‘Excellence in Accessibility Award’ at the Technology4Good awards September 2012: “Technology is a vital part of human existence. They show us that the right tools in the right hands can help everyone, regardless of our frailties, to achieve our true potential and advance as a civilisation.”

The way forward?

The digital revolution is about people, social networks and connections not the technology

Get the basics right – make it easy for people to connect with you.

Value and respond to feedback, complaints and suggestions to improve your services

An idea does not care who has it – share generously your knowledge, passions and links to resources you have found  useful, enjoyed reading or even just made you smile.

I hope you will be excited as me by the potential offered through social media to create communities of interest, make new connections, share information and resources and let people know about your work. I look forward to welcoming you to this wonderful and connected world!

The Connected Care Network

  • Nurtures innovative approaches to care and support and encourages collaboration and partnership to avoid unnecessary duplication.
  • Is an independent and authoritative voice which promotes investment in new models of care, supporting innovation, technology solutions and economic growth
  • Provides a range of services including the Care in a Digital Age programme, Critical Friend Reviews and support with developing Digital Engagement strategies
  • Published the first Click Guide to Digital Technology for Adult Care because there is a real gap in the market for connecting digital technology with the people and organizations who purchase care and support services. The Guide is now being updated to include another 100 resources.
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