Monthly Archives: March 2013

The heartbeat of the new world economy is social and mobile @equalman

Mobile technology and social networks provide some of the most powerful tools available today for building a sense of belonging, support and sharing.  Social media has become the number one activity on the web. How many care organisations  have an effective online communications and engagement strategy?

@Media_Trust Top tip #GoMobileconf: 80 per cent of Twitter users access it via their smart phone.

 A powerful and very popular video from Erik Qualman author of Socialnomics which provides statistics about the global influence of social media. “it is not a question now about whether you should be involved in social media but how well you do it”

If your organisation would like help in developing an online communication and digital engagement strategy which promotes innovative thinking do get in contact! @shirleyayres 

What I’ve learned via Twitter today #sociallearning in action

Great start to the day reading @PaulBromford thoughts about the social CEO

1: Forget social media – it’s about being a social business

2:  It will make you more visible, people will like you more

3: You are missing out on recruiting the best people

4: Customers will trust your organisation more

5:  You are missing out on vital market intelligence

Followed by an insightful post from @NathanConstable about the police use of social media and the reasons why some chief officers are reluctant to embrace social media:

1. With the best will in the world some just don’t “get it” and will need to be convinced of its value.
2. There is a fear of loss of control of message. Everything has to be corporate.
3. There is a fear that some of their officers will damage the reputation of the force by tweeting things they shouldn’t.

Good to share the newly published e-book Social Media and Mental Health Practice

An innovative response to the  challenge of making care technology mainstream

Gadget Hub a pop up shop bringing care technology to the high street

 Richard Haynes (left) with Gadget Hub brand ambassador Ben SmoldonGadget Hub is a brand new retail experience promoting products that enhance everyone’s lives by making daily tasks easier and fun. Gadget Hub will be hosted by The Mall in Sutton Coldfield from Monday 25th March to Saturday 6th April having been selected as a finalist in the Retail Factor competition.

Products will be on show throughout the two weeks, together with workshops demonstrating how adopting and using simple devices and gadgets can have a profound effect upon improving lives.  In particular, people concerned about living alone or people requiring increasing support when gaining more independence will benefit.  Gadget Hub will also offer advice and provide individuals with links to services that improve health, wellbeing, safety and security.

Gadget Hub has been inspired by Richard Haynes of The Community Gateway and is being delivered in partnership with Our Place Community Hub.   Volunteers are being recruited to oversee the project and funding is being sought to support the progression of this project into a successful retail business; it is hoped that Gadget Hub will become a regular presence within The Mall in the future.  It is anticipated that any profits will be directed towards Our Place Community Hub, increasing the capacity of the services offered there.

Local Authorities and businesses will be on hand to demonstrate how gadgets can make individuals feel safer and better able to cope with tasks. The Sutton Trinity Neighbourhood Police team will also join Gadget Hub to register personal belongings, discuss personal safety and how to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of crime.

Richard explains “The Gadget Hub is for everyone. Many of our devices can be life enhancing for anyone. It’s no coincidence though that we can also particularly help those with caring responsibilities, like parents and children but also for people with disability or impairment preparing or supporting them for independent living. We are here to provide as much advice as possible and to get feedback on whether people would like a permanent presence of this sort. Gadget Hub is exciting in so many ways it potentially creates a new market, new jobs, supports underfunded services that affect us all in some way and the unique ownership means local community services are better resourced.”

Activities planned at the Gadget Hub

Monday 25th, and Tuesday 26th March 11am, 2pm, 4pm: advice on care for older people and specific issues such as falls, stroke, dementia or chronic heart, or emphysema

Tuesday 26th March 2pm – 4pm & Thursday 28th 2pm – 4pm: Marie Spittle from Dudley Council Telecare Service will be on hand for advice on new technologies

Friday 29th March, 2pm – 5pm: Master chef John Ruddock from Tinshack, providing tasty nibbles, talking about his Saturday workshops and how anybody  can manage to cook in style.

Saturday 30th March, 11:30, 1:30pm and 3:30pm, (location – Our Place Community Hub): Tinshack Masterclasses about anything food related.  How to cook in style on a budget; using appliances that sense cook (switch off when cooked); using steamers rather than pans which are less likely to burn and lighter to move

What a great initiative just imagine if every high street had a Gadget Hub pop up shop! With so many families now self funding care and support there is a real need to provide information and practical advice about the many technologies which are available.

For more information contact Richard on Twitter @richardchaynes  or via email

Guest Post: Supporting practitioners to make sense of social media in mental health practice

Victoria Betton deputy director of strategy and partnerships at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust discusses her new e-book Social Media in Mental Health Practice co-written with Victoria Tomlinson from Northern Lights PR.

I use every opportunity to chat to people using and working in mental health services about social media. And what I experience is disconnect. Many practitioners are fearful. Many more are excited by the possibilities but not sure where to start. A smaller number are already confidently using social media to connect, network and innovate. Most are predominantly thinking about their use of social media in relation to personal/professional identity and ensuring their online behaviours are consistent with guidance from their professional body or organisation.

What I see much less of, is practitioners having the opportunity to consider how social media may form a part of their toolkit – helping people think about recovery in the context of their online as well as their offline lives and the interplay between the two.  At the same time I see many people with lived experience using all sorts of social media to take control, connect with peers, campaign, have fun and develop.

There is where I see the disconnect and this is where the idea for Social Media in Mental Health Practice came from – a desire to capture many of the fantastic ways in which social media are already being used, to amplify, and to give practitioners ideas and tips about how they might incorporate this knowledge into their day-to-day practice. It isn’t a ‘how to’ book and it isn’t about professional identity. Its purpose is to help mental health practitioners who are new to social media, consider the possibilities and the challenges, by finding out from those who are already innovating – both people using mental health services and people working within them.

I am always struck by the kindness and supportiveness of the community I have discovered in social media spaces – particularly Twitter. Victoria (co-author) and I could not have written this book without the generosity and willingness of many people to share their experiences – this in itself is a testament to the positive potential of social media. We are also incredibly grateful to Helen Bevan, chief of transformation at the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, for supporting and funding the development of this e-book – another person who I initially connected with on Twitter.

This e-book captures a particular point in time – I hope it will quickly become out-of-date and redundant, as more and more mental health practitioners become increasingly familiar with the potential of social media for supporting recovery focused practice.

You can download Social Media in Mental Health Practicehere

Victoria Betton is deputy director of strategy and partnerships at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and is undertaking a PhD at the University of Leeds on the theme of social media and mental health. You can find her on Twitter @VictoriaBetton and her blog here. Her co-writer is Victoria Tomlinson from Northern Lights PR, author of a number of e-books on how to use social media, who can be found on Twitter @nlightspr.


Introducing ‘Shared Walk’ a novel form of visual communication

Being isolated and housebound can have a serious impact on a person’s health, well-being and quality of life. A new internet and smartphone service is helping housebound individuals to explore the outside world with a friend, relative, carer, or volunteer. The aim of Shared Walk is to help people stay in touch through sharing access to photographs and short videos that can be easily and spontaneously transmitted from a customised mobile phone app.

In particular, it allows anyone with a smartphone to capture and send narrated videos to a housebound partner with access to personal space on the Shared Walk website. It is hoped that this service will be particularly valuable for relatively isolated individuals with access to the website. It will enable them to keep in touch with any contact  (or group of contacts) who can use a smartphone app. It is secure, accessible and user friendly to the novice – and it’s free to use.

The mobile member of this partnership typically captures brief video episodes of their daily lives with the  phone app and instantly transmits them to ‘domestic’ partners to view and, if they like. comment upon through a simple webpage. The video might be outward looking views of a “walk” (although it might even be the view from a “journey” rather than a walk – say the view from a bicycle or car). Housebound participants can also subscribe to “stories” in which a mobile individual posts intermittent video clips that capture something of their everyday lives –  this could range from a student,someone in business, a member of the clergy or a teacher.

“We were motivated by the idea that vivid and personal visual material was a powerful resource to animate and sustain relationships, particularly among those increasingly disconnected from an active social world.”  Professor Charles Crook leading the team developing Shared Walk

The research team at the University of Nottingham (with funding from the Nominet Trust) have been looking at how everyday technology can help those who are socially and physically isolated feel more connected with their families, friends and community.

Shared Walk are partnering with charities working with housebound individuals to promote the service and encourage people to sign up. Have a look at the introductory video and do email  Professor Crook or contact Charles  via Twitter if you would like to be involved in this innovative project.



Digital technology and care – how do we promote more connected thinking?

The care my parents received in later life was important to me, my family and our friends.I know how much they would have enjoyed finding out about and using digital technology!

I was reminded of this when reading over 65 papers produced by more than 30 organisations exploring ageing, innovation, digital technology and access to information and resources. There is so much potential for digital technology to enable people to make new connections, contribute to person-centred support, develop community networks and new models of care so an obvious question is what is stopping more widespread adoption?

There is no shortage of innovations in digital technology and millions of pounds are being spent supporting further developments. It is less clear about the application, impact and usage of these innovations. One problem is the limited awareness in the sector and amongst the public about what is available and it’s value. I believe that a big deficit is the lack of a strategic approach to embedding digital technology in the range of options to support people to live more fulfilling lives. Most days I am answering questions about suitable technology products and services.(Sadly this is  not a service I am funded to provide so inevitably help is limited by my availability). A major reason why I produced the Click Guide to Digital Technology for Adult Social Care is to forge connections across a seemingly disparate sector which ranges from entrepreneurs, practitioners,  commissioners and self funding customers.

I welcome the Ageing and Innovation programme being developed by Nesta with a focus on innovating across our social institutions. The Living Map of Ageing Innovations highlights many interesting innovations.  #5hrsaday

Sharpening the Care Diamond by Matthew Taylor Chief Executive of the RSA  explores society’s capacity for providing care which comprises the market, the state, close family and the wider community.

David Wilcox and his team have been asking challenging questions in the Nominet Trust exploration  into using technology later in life “We know lots about innovation, digital tech & #socialcare now who will make it useful?” #dtlater

I recommend reading the inspiring approach developed by the Asset Based Community Development  Institute which focus on developing new ideas and strategies which are not needs based and funding-led, but instead use assets more effectively and promote citizen led initiatives. A recent discussion with Cormac Russell a faculty member of the ABCD Institute confirmed the importance of supporting  communities to actively engage in a democratic and inclusive way in co-producing stronger, safer and healthier neighbourhoods.

It is definitely worth following the Kings Fund Time to Think Differently programme aimed at stimulating debate about the changes needed for the NHS and social care to meet the challenges of the future. Excellent infographics and an analysis of future trends. #kfthink

These and many other initiatives are ensuring that technology acts as an enabler; exploring how community support can be developed;  promoting the user perspective in developing technologies and enabling people to live well with long term conditions. But I am most aware that there is a real need to encourage more strategic thinking which promotes collaboration and connected strategies. It is also essential that we can provide evidence of impact and outcomes in the use of digital technology. There are a lot of sceptics to be convinced! Individuals and organisations  need to have confidence in the products and services being provided by digital technology. Whilst many health technologies are possibly over evaluated much of the digital technology being developed for care is under evaluated.

I am concerned about potential duplication with the number of age and innovation projects currently underway. There does seem to be a lack of collaboration amongst organisations, researchers and innovators. How can we encourage the sharing of resources in ways that are discoverable for people requiring care and support, their family and friends and service commissioners?

There are a number of challenges. The care sector is complex and fragmented with a seemingly narrow focus on residential and home care. For me wellbeing comprises all of the services which make each of us feel safe, secure and supported in our community whatever our age or personal circumstances. I really hope the Health and Wellbeing Boards will be a catalyst for connecting key players in local communities  which includes  social services, health, housing, education, leisure services, the police, economic regeneration, charities and social enterprises , private providers and of course the purchasers and recipients of services.

We need to think differently  about how care is provided and there is a critical role for community development in  identifying and supporting  community builders and connectors  who may not be involved with any of the organisations represented on the Health and Wellbeing Boards.

In my paper for the Nominet Trust “Can online innovations enhance social care?” I suggest we explore the potential for developing a Community Wellbeing and Social Technology Innovation Hub. There are many organisations thinking about how care can be delivered more effectively with a focus on the needs and aspirations of the individual requiring support. I believe we need to develop a coherent and independent voice which will facilitate connections and challenge silo thinking amongst the hundreds of potentially competing stakeholders with an interest in this area. Mapping networks and community hubs would be a good start. We also urgently need to create a better shared understanding of technology innovations, the benefits and the limitations.

Just imagine if there was one trusted source where you could access the latest information about care and support innovations, get advice about selecting hardware and choosing apps, find support to get and stay online and understand which organisations are funding, researching and promoting digital technology across the wider care sector.

The way forward?

Convene a roundtable for all the funders of digital technology to explore   collaboration, sharing practice and a common approach to evaluating and promoting the outcomes and impacts of their investment.

Provide signposts which enable care recipients, their families and carers to find out what technology products and services are available, both through statutory services or to purchase independently.

Create, promote and participate in events that showcase innovations in care which could be adopted by local authorities, the NHS and housing providers.

Map all of the digital community hubs (however defined) which are available to ensure that people have access to local resources.  This would also identify areas where there is currently no support available.

Benchmark levels of awareness about technology innovations across the care sector and work with key players to promote and share the benefits of innovation.

I welcome your thoughts and ideas here or through Twitter @shirleyayres using the hashtag #deukcare