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

Me, Myself & I


At Staffordshire County Council, our aim is to make sure that people who use our services are at the centre of what we do. One initiative that has used technology to help us do this and make services more accessible is a game called Me, Myself and I.

First developed as a board game that could be used to ask people with learning difficulties or vulnerable adults in supported housing what they need to live independently, it soon became clear that an electronic version could be even more useful.

So linking with Coventry University, and after extensive testing with service users, we developed an interactive web and app version of the game.

Me, myself and I is used by care and support staff to engage with a broad range of people with verymemeselfandI different needs and experiences. Its aim is that it is easy to use for people, from young to old, no matter what challenges they face so they can express their needs and preferences easily in an enjoyable and cost effective way.

By using the interactive game as an aid, people are signposted to information on the county council’s Staffordshire Cares website (@Staffscares)based on their needs and preferences. This can range from healthy living advice to staying safe at home and in turn helps individuals navigate their way through the care system.

The app is highly intuitive so has helped to really improve the experience for users. It is fully personalised and is more fun than traditional approaches that we used before, which is really important. It also puts people in ‘control’ of the support planning process rather than feeling done onto.

Using technology in this way has allowed us to be really creative in how we involve service users and citizens in care planning and to really promote ‘personalisation’. It puts individuals at the heart of making lifestyle decisions no matter what their circumstances and it has had really good feedback that it’s making a difference. In a survey with users, 91% said the game had helped to explain what is important to them. Me, myself and I has also been used by care workers as a way to consult with communities and as an improvement tool to help set organisation priorities.

We’ve recently been piloting how the app can be used with young people who are in care to look at how they are supported which has had some massive positives. For example we found the app allowed conversions that wouldn’t necessarily have happened and it helped to engage with more young people who traditionally haven’t responded to other approaches.

Based on this, we are now working to develop a young people’s version of the app so the content reflects the issues of relevance to them. So far Me, Myself and I has really paid off in Staffordshire so we are hoping that it will be used by other local authorities to support the Pathway planning process nationally.

Comments from people who have used the App

  •  I love the app, its different, it’s not boring

  • I like the app because it’s personal, it’s about you

  • I like how it shows you links to useful information if you need it



Emily Skeet

Commissioning Manager
Staffordshire County Council

Picture credit

Social Care Curry Club


Biryani Rice with Goat Masala and Lamb Rogan Josh

The Social Care Curry Club is an opportunity for people (anyone) to come together and discuss social care over curry. A lack of hierarchy is at the heart of Social Care Curry. Anyone can attend; what you do is less important than who you are; we also ask you to leave organisational baggage at the door and not sell stuff. Food is both a common language and a great leveller.

Funnily enough chatting over food isn’t a new idea. The Lunar Men were a dinner club and informal society of industrialists, natural philosophers and intellectuals who met regularly between 1765 and 1813 in Brum (more details here). No constitution, minutes, publications or membership survived. In short, the amount of structure was very limited. This was a place where people met over food and discussed ideas they were passionate about (as it happens some of those ideas involved electricity, meteorology and geology). A statue of Boulton (the original host), Watt and Murdoch can be found in Birmingham today opposite the fantastic new library.

Happily you don’t need to be a big wigged aristocrat to attend Social Care Curry (wiggy aristos also welcome). Many people who attend Social Care Curry remark on how intimidating and oddly exciting it is to walk into a room with total strangers and have no clue how the evening will go. So far so good!

Why do we need an opportunity to come together? No-one has ever experienced financial pressures like we are as a sector at present. It impacts on everyone, above all people who use care and support services and carers. The potential for anger, disenfranchisement and isolation are high and tragically for many a part of everyday life. Going for a curry won’t fix this but it does offer two things; connection and a sharing of ideas and experiences. The beauty of the format is it can mean totally different things to everyone who attends. Topics range from caring for people with Alzheimer’s to creative usage of technology in India. Talk or listen to whatever interests you.

Positive change starts with relationships and Social Care Curry offers many opportunities to connect. Equally the big wig wearing Lunar men had it right, formality and rules can kill creativity. The great works of literature were not written in a board room or the greatest songs of our time composed using a stopwatch. “Stop the clock, itzy rhymes with bitzy, what is the song about again? Yeah yeah bikinis, got it.”

Richard Humphries (Kings Fund Fellow and thrice Social Care Curry Club attendee) tweeted the following Charles Handy quote which draws the whole experience together perfectly:

“The hope lies in the unknown, in that second curve if we can find it. The world is up for reinvention in so many ways. Creativity is born in chaos. What we do, what we belong to, why we do it, when we do it and where we do it- these all may be different and they could be better. Change comes from small initiatives which, imitated, become the fashion. We cannot wait for great visions from people, for they are in short supply at the end of our history. It is up to us to light our own small fires in the darkness.”

So, you are welcome to light a little fire with us at the next Social Care Curry on the 6th March.
Venues will be confirmed in the coming weeks and you can book your free ticket at our Eventbrite page (bookings ready late Jan/Feb). All you pay for is the cost of your food and drink.

Follow @socialcarecurry on Twitter or click here to find out more about us. Thanks for all the connections so far; there are many more to come….


Matt Bowsher

Matt is an Assistant Director of Adult Social Care at Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council.

Picture Credit