Time for social work to embrace social media

Accessing information through social media may seem daunting but it does offer easy ways to communicate, collaborate and share resources, writes communications expert Shirley Ayres (pictured). It has many uses in the social care sector.

For example, an increasing number of chief executives and local councillors are now writing blogs and using Twitter to encourage more direct conversations within their local communities.

How technology is changing social care: a special report

More people have access to a mobile phone than a computer and it’s worth remembering that many service users are comfortable using social media tools on their phones. Some local authorities already use text messaging to remind young people of upcoming appointments.

Twitter is widely accessible from virtually anywhere and is used to share news, events and discussions. A fascinating experiment was undertaken by Sedgemoor Citizens Advice Bureau where they tweeted every enquiry they processed over seven days showing the scale and the scope of the advice they provided.

Another social media innovation that looks highly promising for those in children’s services is being developed by the Safeguarding 2.0 project – which is developing new ways for child protection practitioners to communicate using Facebook-style modern, human and intuitive technology, centred around a family. The tools allow information to be distributed quickly across networks and will act as an early warning system to enable earlier intervention. The tool will be subject to rigorous security and confidentiality requirements from each of the partner agencies before it goes live.

Good practice in social networking is no different from any other form of communication such as writing emails or representing your organisation at events.

The Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services has provided a sample policy for using social media.

Shirley Ayres is a knowledge management and communications expert in social care and the author of Guide to Developing a Social Media Strategy for Care Organisations

What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace

Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.