Social media for social care – let’s not forget personalisation

This is going to be a short post, I promise, it’s also a little thrown together as I’m finding 140 characters just isn’t enough space to try and explain what I mean! This post builds on two previous posts of mine Social media is not the answer written in January, and a post from the end of October about measurement of impact Social media metrics: reach ≠ quality and three excellent posts all written this week, The role of social media in a social worker’s continuing professional development from @mgoat73Use and application of social media in social work and social care education from @jaxrafferty, and Social Media and Social Care/ Work Education from @Ermintrude2. All of these posts discuss the role that social media can play and it’s relatives benefits and limitations. I’ll not repeat what they say here.

Before we go any further, do you know who this is? You’ll find out by the end of the blog if you don’t!

I just wanted to make one small point. For a sector that has spent the past few years struggling (and continues to struggle) with developing a personalised approach to support, those of us currently using social media to discuss social work or social care, seem to have forgotten (or be in danger of forgetting) about the need for personalisation. Social media can certainly be a useful tool, in my experience it has opened doors, formed and supported connections and relationships, provided a viewpoint I wouldn’t otherwise have, given useful context from many worlds I don’t regularly inhabit or have access to.

The benefit of social media as a support for broadcast or information share is well established, even in social care. Well maybe not well established, but it’s logical and easy to explain to someone, and I’m confident we could find examples of it being used in this way. I don’t believe we’ve even scratched the surface on its potential as a tool for collaboration or crowd sourcing, for creating content and sharing ideas across the sector.

I also have yet to see any evidence of social media making much impact as a support for those wishing to access and use services, I’m sure there are one or two notable exceptions, but I’d hazard that these anecdotes are just that. Those of you in the social care sector who are familiar with personalisation will almost certainly have heard the anecdote of the guy from the north, who bought a season ticket for the football/rugby/cricket with his personal budget*. Social care is full of these examples, genuine stories from service users that get borrowed by politicians or civil servants and before you know it they become part of the folklore, and yes I deliberately put in the vague notion of what the season ticket was for because I’ve heard it claimed as so many things in recent years, a classic case of Chinese whispers!

So my plea, because I promised to keep it short. Let’s not forget about the true meaning of personalisation, about giving choice and control to the end user. To do so that means a range of methods for learning, sharing and communicating. A range of approaches for doing our business and providing support. So let’s talk about the benefits that social media provides, let’s dream expansively about the possibilities, but let’s not claim it as a panacea.  It has huge potential, within a range of approaches, but let’s ensure our end users get to choose to use it, rather than those of us who are converted trying to convince them it is the most appropriate choice!

*The season ticket holder (shown in the piccie above) was Gary Croft from Oldham, you can read about his story here.

4 thoughts on “Social media for social care – let’s not forget personalisation

  1. We certainly have not forgotten about personalisation!

    Philippa Codd and I co-manage “the personalisation group to revolutionise social care” on LinkedIn. Anyone with a genuine interest in this area can join and we are always keen to welcome people who use services and people who are carers. There are many people in the group who will help others learn the ropes of social media – please just ask!

    As for the anecdotes about season tickets … and people with dogs… stories are the lifeblood of personalisation. The challenge is to collect more and more – how is it working out for individuals, what unique solutions have been found to improve quality of life. If there aren’t enough stories, let’s encourage people to tell us their own story.

    In our LinkedIn group, we have two on-going discussions called “Enablers” and “Barriers” to personalisation. The idea is to collect little nuggets / stories /anecdotes – what works and what doesn’t – to encourage people to learn about what is working elsewhere and dump unnecessary red tape and obstacles that prevent progress.

    And who knows … hopefully someone somewhere has bought a cricket or rugby season ticket too – after all, that’s what personalisation is all about…

  2. Hi Gill, thanks for the comment and for flagging the LinkedIn group. I wasn’t for a minute suggesting we’d forgotten about personalisation (as a priority), more that the behaviour of some of us social media evangelists can be sooo extreme at times that it worries me. For example, I’ve heard several times ‘if only all Directors of Social Care were on Twitter’ and ‘if only social workers had iPads’, usually implying that if only everyone else would just get with the programme and start using social media all our problems would be answered.

    I was using the ethos of personalisation, of choice and control, as an example of what I feel is required. I absolutely support the role that stories and personal experience can play, I just don’t think government ministers hijacking them, forgetting the facts and paraphrasing does the story justice or shows respect to the person who shared their experience in the first place. I think there is a place for experience and anecdote, alongside a developing evidence base of practitioner wisdom and research – I think the challenge for our discussions of social media in social care is to make sure we are thinking beyond stories.

    Thanks again for commenting and I’ll (hopefully) tweet you at the debate.

  3. Thanks, George. I agree! One size fits all is never the answer.

    A blended approach to learning and an open mind. Tools that work for the individual!

    My Mum is terrified that cheque books will be discontinued and all banking will go on-line…

  4. I have, for years, fought hard to get the voices of those who cannot ‘speak for themselves’ out in the personalisation agenda – those particularly who have dementias or cognitive impairments and who do not have advocates. It is through discussions, researching blog posts and firming up my own ideas about trying to find positive ways forward rather than concentrating on problems that I was able to present ideas locally and because of this develop a pilot in the field.
    Social media is not THE answer but it can open up different ideas/thoughts/research and debates and ensure that learning is not controlled by universities or local authorities but can be shared.

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