Tag Archives: technology

Update: Click Guide to #Dementia

I  have been touched and excited by the interest and support for the Guide. since we launched (read the original post here) and we are now working on the next two Guides which we hope to launch soon.

You can buy the Guide here and I appreciate it can be a tough choice between the eBook at £4-99 which has clickable links and the Paperback at £8-99 (plus p&p) a valuable reference book. Or why not buy both!

A big thank you to everyone sharing and liking information about the Guide.

The Click Guide is self funded and has been produced by a very small group of professionals who believe passionately that technology can benefit all of our lives but only if information is accessible to enable people to make informed choices about how digital resources can enhance care and support.

An important reminder that the Terms and Conditions for using the Click Guide to Dementia eBook state that the Guide is for personal use and can only be downloaded on one device (laptop, iPad, Tablet or smartphone).

If you are an organisation who would like to support staff, service users and volunteers to benefit from online access to the Guide or a membership subscription service who wish to add our digital resources to your database please contact us to buy a licence which is available for a reasonable fee  dependent on the numbers who will be accessing the resources in the Guide.

For more information about buying a licence or for a digital copy of the Terms and Conditions of Use please contact Shirley@clickguide.co.uk 



The new Disruptive Social Care podcast [video] is now online

We’re delighted to be back after our break, and even more delighted that this show has been crowd-funded.  As usual the show features regular presenters Stuart Arnott from Mindings and Shirley Ayres, bringing you news of innovations right across the care sector.

The audio podcast and extensive shownotes will be published on the Disruptive Social Care  site this weekend.

A big thanks to our show sponsors:

https://twitter.com/BPDFFS – https://www.facebook.com/FFS.BPD
https://twitter.com/claireOT – http://claireot.wordpress.com
https://twitter.com/clarkmike – http://www.telecarelin.org.uk
https://twitter.com/FOL_LTD – http://www.focusedonlearning.com
https://twitter.com/MindingsStu – http://www.mindings.com



Introducing the Care in the Digital Age programme

ImageThe Care in the Digital Age programme is designed to help your organization deliver more focused, cost effective services by showcasing digital technologies that offer new ways of supporting service users and carers.

The event presents digital technology solutions across a wide range from personal networks through to ‘keeping in touch’ systems and meal sharing initiatives. The emphasis is on technologies that promote independence, diminish social isolation and address the issue of digital exclusion amongst disadvantaged groups. It draws on our experience of the availability, impact and of web and app based systems in the sector (as detailed in our click guide to digital technology in adult social care and in the Provocation Paper Can online innovations enhance social care? published by the Nominet Trust).

The programme consists of a one day event aimed at people involved in health, social services, housing, education, economic regeneration and the police, and encourages participation from carers, service users and their representatives. As a follow-up, we can work with community builders and connectors to explore how these innovations can be embedded and supported through the development of local hubs.

Kent  Care in the Digital Age  takes place on Friday 12th July. The event is fully booked but you can follow the discussion on Twitter using the hastag #kentdigicare

We may be coming to your locality because we are now in discussion with a number of other local authorities, Health and Wellbeing Boards, housing associations and community groups to deliver the Care in the Digital Age programme across the UK.

If you would like to find out more I would be very happy to talk to you!

Hierarchies in Social Networks

Over the last week or so, I’ve turned my mind to the place of hierarchy within social networks and forms of ‘social media’ and what this means as these new forms of communication open up to more people.

Human Pyramid

The lie of democracy pretends that we all have an equal voice in terms of our vote when we are choosing our leaders. The reality is far from that. The loudness of the voice is determined by many other factors such as wealth, social standing, professional status, age, physical appearance and many other discriminations that run through every group that forms and society that is created around communities.

In some ways, ‘social media’ such as blogs, micro-blogs such as Twitter and sites such as Newsvine, Reddit, StumbleUpon and many like them have an undemocratic ‘feel’ to them. They allow anyone so the theory goes to become a ‘citizen journalist’ or rather a ‘citizen curator’ without needing to explain who they are and why they are qualified to do so.

More recently a few conversations I’ve been involved in (yes, on Twitter mostly) have highlighted the crossover between the importance of ‘status’ and the expectation that the same status should be accorded on these more open, more ‘democratic’ platforms.

This for me, is the rub of the ‘old’ against the ‘new’ and while we cannot disregard ‘real world’ influence in affording respect to particular views – in some ways, it is a parting of ways for the original  mentality which ask people to be judged on the content and value of their words rather than the letters before or after their name.

There is no way to break down these barriers of status completely. Barack Obama will always have more followers on a social media site than John Smith, a school student from Little Hadbury and it is quite right too.

Perhaps though, we are losing something by disregarding the content and influence that John Smith could have if given the channel and voice to do so.

Some of the most precious insights I have gained from my brief dallying in social media forms has been particularly from users and carers of services that I provide as a social worker but also from social work students. Indeed (no offence intended) it is often students that can ‘teach’ more insights than professors because academics have louder ‘natural’ voices which are provided by the status that they are (quite rightly) accorded in the society in which we live in.

Various tools like Klout and its ilk are trying to establish ‘hierarchies’ onto these communication tools – indicating that some people are ‘better’ than others where the real value is more personal and unlikely to be provided by a logarithm.

My concern is that as the ‘real world’ hierarchy creeps across social networks is not that we should ignore them – of course not. It is a great way of sharing knowledge and understanding but more that we must not lose this opportunity to lose the naturally quieter voices. Indeed, we should seek them out and learn from them.

Human beings like categorising things – including ourselves. We need to know our own place in these hierarchies. Sometimes our perceptions of where we are on these hierarchies is different from where we might place ourselves but really, the most important thing is to listen to all who have voices – sometimes learning comes in the least expected places.

I’d be interested in the experiences of others with the changing hierarchies particularly within social networks? Are you seeing what I’m seeing? How do you interpret the changes that are being experienced by society?

5 reasons Why Social Workers should use Social Media

Firstly, thanks to Shirley for setting up this site. It looks like an exciting space to share information about using social media for people in the social care sector.

I’m very far from a ‘pro’ when it comes to getting to grips with technology but that’s part of the reason I find the world we are living in so fascinating at the moment. Technology is a part of daily life in ways that it never was even five years ago. Yes, for some who are involved in the industry, this is all ‘old hat’ but for people like me who have always shown an interest rather than an enthusiasm, the opportunities to engage and enjoy different ways of making contact is both fascinating and exciting.

I wanted to start by writing up a few of my thoughts about the proliferation of social media and technology over the past few years and how I, as a currently practising social worker, have found them useful and why I think other social workers like me, should ‘take the plunge’.

1. Knowledge building

Last week, I wrote on the College of Social Work site about the importance of knowledge as a social worker. Knowledge isn’t static it is a work in progress. I now have access to blogs and websites that allow me to read and understand social work in a broader context and allow me to take much more responsibility for my learning and knowledge base through ‘standing on the shoulders of others’.

I can follow Twitter feeds and draw in links from those who work in different practice areas and internationally. I can follow publications through Facebook and join conversations there.

Since jumping into the ‘social media’ pool, my knowledge base has expanded exponentially. I follow the news from different countries and organisations with more interest. I can hear ‘voices’ directly from those areas affected rather than relying wholly on the mainstream media interpretations of those events. I can ‘speak’ to people in local authorities and health services and understand where my role fits in among wider systems.

I learn and I grow as a social worker but more importantly as a person.

2. Making Connections

The fact that I am writing this post now is a testament to my second point – one of making connections. I am a frontline social worker and I am not involved in any of the social work management type career path. I do my job and I hope I do my job well but I don’t have a wider ‘voice’ as relates to the ‘leaders of the profession’ or at least, I didn’t until I started to use Twitter more frequently.

Mainstream Media uses Twitter and Facebook to build stories and follow stories so ‘being there’ helps me understand how news cycles work and how journalism works and as such, it means my critical analysis about the ways that stories are put together and fed to us are sharper. The Guardian is using social media to share it’s daily newslist. Community Care has a very strong and responsive presence on Twitter and Facebook. You go where the influencers are and you can join in with the influencing.

If I say pertinent things, people will listen but it isn’t just about making connections with those who are influential in much easier ways, it is also, perhaps far more importantly, about making connections with those who use services in very different ways and learning directly about what makes a good social worker from people who have met many bad social workers. It makes my practice more person-centred and gives me a voice in dimensions that would not have been possible in previous generations.

I also think of people who might be affected by disability or illness who are able to make broader connections to feel less isolated. I have been involved in providing direct payments for people to include use of PC and broadband connection.  I was told it would improve the quality of life of the service user and carer and  I experience it so I understand it.

This is going to become much more common. As  I connect with people who use the services not directly by me but in similar settings in other areas of the country and in other service areas. When we connect in the  social sphere, I learn and I understand better  and it will make me a better practitioner as a result, I have no doubt of that.

3. Building conversations

Connections are built on relationships and they are grown through conversations and one of the real bonuses I’ve noted recently are the ways that conversations can grow – either planned, like the Twitter Chat from SWSCMedia or on an improvised basis around particular topics. Facebook and Google+ are also good spaces for more extensive discussions to develop and extend beyond the 140 character limit that Twitter imposes (which has both advantages and disadvantages).

The great thing about ‘Twitter Chats’ or any chat that takes place in the open ‘social’ space is that it allows anyone from students, users of services, heads of services and run of the mill practitioners to join in, speak to each other and contribute – a real stride on the path towards equal voices being heard and a true revolution in terms of the way that information is shared and the way that knowledge can be shared.

4. Constructing and Reinforcing a Professional Identity

Social Work suffers from a image problem. Social media and non-traditional media offer us – as social workers – an opportunity to really reclaim that image without having to rely on organisations or management to do it for us. We do that by using this media responsibly and building links with service user organisations. We do this by sharing the work we do and the way we do it according to our ethical standards and by emphasising that one individual’s bad experience with a particular social worker does mean the whole profession is rotten.

We can explain and expand on what we do and why we do it directly with the mainstream media when we haven’t been given space to in the past. We can prove that it is a valuable and honourable – but oft-ignored profession – which is worthy of respect.

Social Workers are all about Social Networks. We use theories to explain relationships and networks so we have to use them too and prove we can use them successfully.

Social Networks are useful to me because they make my world bigger. They can also be very useful to the people I work with and if I am going to meet people where they are, sometimes that will be (and more increasingly so) the ‘social space’ created by technology.

5. Building Support and Resilience

I’m fortunate enough to have very supportive managers and colleagues but I’ve worked in situations where that hasn’t been the case and it can feel very isolating. Sometimes it feels like no-one can understand the stresses and pressures of the job as much as someone who is actually doing it and social media allows us ways to make contact, from home, both with other social workers who can share their own knowledge and experiences but also with our own friends who we might not have as much time to see as we would like.

We can remain in touch with our support networks and build new support networks which can help us understand what are acceptable and unacceptable expectations by our managers and find ways to talk to each other about things we find difficult (but always remaining conscious of confidentiality issues).

And sometimes, all you want to do is browse kitten photos to lift your mood.

It is important to have fun and have interests away from work – to chat about Strictly Come Dancing or follow the X Factor or to post, yes, .. kitten photos!

I’d be interested to know other reasons. These aren’t meant to be definitive and this is an area I’m interested in exploring and continuing to explore.

The point of this is to learn from others so please do share reasons and examples of positive uses for social media platforms!