This post was inspired by @daveneenhan following a recent Guardian article about Bromley’s MyLife approach to choice and control. The new portal aims to provide “a route for self-support in adult social care” This was followed by a Twitter discussion about the value of static online Directories of Social Care services which do not encourage or engage with people who use care services to comment or add to the Directory. In fairness to Bromley they are not alone in providing what is basically an online list of local care services. Most local authorities such as Lewisham My Life My Choice have adopted a similar format.
We would love to know about local authorities who are actively using social media channels to inform and engage their residents aboput social care so please do share good practice. A special mention here for Monmouthshire County Council and Helen Reynolds @HelReynolds who have opened up access to social media channels for all their staff and provide excellent case studies of digital engagement.
‘The future for personalisation? service users, carers & digital engagement’ highlighted the urgent need for people to be signposted to relevant information. Research from the Institute for Public Policy at Oxford Brookes University (2011) and Melanie Henwood Associates (2011) suggests that despite the massive investment by local authorities in providing online social care directories the situation has not changed since 2007.
“Time and again, people described the struggle to obtain information, advice or advocacy to help them in making life-changing decisions”.
There are an increasing number of ‘bottom-up’ and community led initiatives that harness the power of the internet to provide information and resources so why are local authorities not using them?
A few examples which are not included in most local authority Directory of Social Care services websites:
Enabled by Design a community of people who are passionate about well-designed, everyday products that challenge the one-size-fits-all approach to assistive equipment. An excellent example of a website that encourages service users with a disability to share information and thoughts about products and services that are improving the quality of people&’s lives. @enabledby
Netbuddy is for swapping practical tips and information on all aspects of supporting people with learning disabilities. The site includes forums and downloadable information packs @netbuddytoptips
Go Genie Making the inaccessible accessible. Crowd-sourced access information for any place any time any where. @go_genie
Chill4usCarers actively uses social media to raise awareness and support for carers. The Carers’ forum provides information, news and views. Chill4usCarers organises Computers4carers which provides free laptops for carers. It also offers a chat room, open 24 hours a day @Chill4usCarers
The Amazings http://theamazings.org/ help people who are about to retire or have retired create amazing experiences with the skills, knowledge and passion they’ve picked up throughout their life. @theamazingsuk
Martyn Sibley has used his personal experiences to create a series of disability webinars interactive sessions providing information to people living with long-term health conditions and disabilities. @martynsibley
This is only a very small sample of the many new and innovative approaches which are being developed to improve social care services. Can you find this information through your local authority website?
We believe that research which actually asks service users & carers about their information and advice needs is required urgently. This is a very important debate and we would love to hear your views!