From the box bedroom to the boardroom: how social media is coming of age with care act

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While good web pages are paramount social media must form a key part in how local government communicates the care act, a survey has revealed.

While 95 per cent will use a search engine, 60 per cent of people think that platforms like Facebook and Twitter will be used by people to find out how the change will affect their family.

The care act came into force on April 1 and has been hailed as the most significant change to social care for decades.

The poll for IEWM / West Midlands ADASS was carried out by comms2point0 in March and April and targeted people who work in a social care role in councils and the third sector as well as residents with a loved one who receives care and those who don’t.

The study, which will be presented to the ADASS Spring Seminar, maps out the challenges that local government faces when they are communicating the changes.

While search engines and the web remain the most important channel, the survey shows that social media is vital.  Overall, those believing that social media would be used by people to research or ask a question about the care act reached 59 per cent with 28 per cent thinking it would not. People in the third sector were most likely to think the social web would play a role.

The survey shows that social media has evolved from something once dismissed as something used by teenagers in a box bedroom to something that is used day-to-day and needs to be taken account by decision makers.

Will social media be used by people to find out how the social care act may affect them?

It is clear that all sectors see the importance of web tools like Twitter, Facebook and others with those who work in the third sector most valuing the role they can play. The figures remain broadly constant.

Will social media be used to find out how the care act affects them?

  • People who work in social care:  59 per cent YES and 29 per cent NO with 12 per cent don’t know.
  • People who work in the third sector: 68 per cent YES and 26 per cent NO with 6 per cent don’t know.
  • People with a relative or friend who receives care: 59 per cent YES and 21 per cent NO with 19 per cent don’t know.
  • People whop don’t know anyone who receives care: 60 per cent YES and 24 per cent NO with 16 per cent don’t know.

RECOMMENDATION: Accept as a council that social media needs to be part of the communications strategy.

Which will be the most popular social media channel used?

There were no surprises in the survey with 88 per cent of people naming Facebook and 72 per cent Twitter. YouTube was third with 46 per cent with other channels registering less than 10 per cent.

RECOMMENDATION: A better and evaluated use of Facebook is vital with targeted advertisements an option.

What social media response do you think councils should have to help people understand the care act?

It is clear that the expectation is for all people who are responsible for a council social media account should be briefed on where to signpost people be they social care or not. Six out of ten people thought this level of action is needed.

There was also a surprisingly large number looking for a dedicated social care account.

  • Brief everyone responsible for a council social media account 61 per cent
  • Brief people responsible for the corporate account 50 per cent
  • A dedicated social care social media profile operated by social care staff 43 per cent

RECOMMENDATION: The organisation needs to compile a list of individual members of staff who have access and brief them of where to direct people.

RECOMMENDATION: Consider a dedicated social care account.

How else will people find out about the care act?

Search engines dominate as the first port of call with 95 per cent of those surveyed saying they would use a tool like Google or Bing to look for help. The second highest was the council website with 81 per cent followed by a charity or voluntary sector website on 42 per cent. Just over a third would call the council or rely on the local Press to keep them informed. Less than 30 per cent would rely on a face-to-face chat with a council officer in person. Just 1 per cent wouldn’t try to find out, pointing to a thirst for information that needs to be filled.

  • Search engine 95 per cent
  • Council website 81 per cent
  • Charity website 42 per cent
  • Call the council 35 per cent
  • Read the Press 35 per cent
  • A face-to-face chat with a council officer 27 per cent
  • A face-to-face chat with a GP 23 per cent
  • A face-to-face chat with a charity 19 per cent
  • Call a third sector group 16 per cent
  • A face-to-face chat with a voluntary group 11 per cent
  • Call a GP 11 per cent
  • Wouldn’t try to find out 1 per cent

RECOMMENDATION: It is vital that councils have a good webpage that is in plain English and can be found easily. Many people won’t go through the council website so the right search terms and search engine optimisation need to be done.

Overall, 247 took part in the survey with 46 per cent declaring them to be social care staff, 16 per cent working for a voluntary group or charity, 18 per cent knowing someone who receives care and 30 per cent not knowing anyone who receives care or working in the sector.

by Dan Slee, Director at comms2point0, for IEWM and West Midlands ADASS

Photo credit: afagen / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

New Ideas Fund – successful applications announced

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Back in July we launched the IEWM New Ideas Fund to support the development of new and innovative solutions to respond to tightening public sector budgets and demand from increasingly tech savvy communities. We have tried not to be overly prescriptive about what it should or should not be. There wasn’t a form or a questionnaire to fill in and we’ve only asked interested parties to use our suggestions as guidelines:

  • provide specialist support to overcome a technical or workability issue;
  • enable more detailed research into an idea to prove the concept (or not) and provide evidence for a business case to support implementation;
  • implement small service changes and improvements or efficiencies;
  • assist with the roll out of solutions to other authorities;
  • help boost capacity and support engagement in activity on behalf of the West Midlands

We are pleased to report that 18 expressions of interest and 14 proposals have been received to date and 11 have been approved. This is brilliant! Even more so, because it has  confirmed what we have already found through #bestbywm: there are some amazing people out there, often working under the radar, who need only a little support and encouragement to get their clever ideas off the ground. There is also a significant enthusiasm and appetite among public sector colleagues to make improvements – for people they serve and for themselves and the way they work.

We have tried our best to allocate the resources available against the submissions for the ‘New Ideas fund’ with an emphasis on creativity, engagement and new territory.

We have really loved and are proud to be able to support the following:

  • Programme of County-wide Social Media campaigns (Worcestershire County Council);
  • Alcohol campaign aimed at 11-14 year olds (Staffordshire County Council);
  • Development of the Yammer network to enhance internal communications and efficiency (Sandwell MBC);
  • Establishment of #BestbyWM for voluntary sector (RAWM);
  • Production of the adoption training videos to assist those considering adoption (Shropshire Council);
  • Effective engagement of seldom heard voices in relation to adult social care services (Dudley MBC and  CVS);
  • Creating virtual access to the police museum (West Midlands Police);
  • Tourism app for mobile phones which will allow people to download vouchers to visit tourist attractions in Dudley (Dudley MBC);
  • Support the development of “Digital Neighbourhoods” across the city (Birmingham City Council);
  • Voter registration app (Sandwell MBC);
  • The ‘Do you feel safe?’ project aiming to reduce fear of crime ) Staffordshire County Council).

Well done to all successful applicants!

We look forward to sharing all their amazing ideas so watch this space.

Photo Credit: Oh Geez! Design via Compfight cc