Social Media and Community Services

Social media is continuing to penetrate every aspect of day to day life and the social care sector is no exception. Social networks are more and more being recognised as an increasingly effective way for local authorities and care professionals to engage with their community. With the advent of technology comes the potential for better communication and collaboration between industry professionals and service users. Just as big businesses and global organisations have embraced the digital media surge, it stands to reason that other sectors, such as those involved in social and community care will develop too. When used in conjunction with existing services, social media can be an indispensable asset.

Although the potential for a better user experience exists, gaps in information do of course have the potential to cause a problem. Also, there are issues when it comes to privacy and how confidential information is discovered and managed. A heightened use of social media by the social care sector has also raised concerns from those who feel the sector could become de-humanised. The potential for service users to feel isolated exists when they have to deal with an automated service, such as a website or automated phone service. Social media platforms have the potential to add to this regardless of how well they are managed.

Implementing social media into such a sector is a great idea in theory. For example, information becomes available 24 hours a day and correspondence can be initiated at any point. Having a live-chat option 24 hours a day can do a great deal to provide support to those who need it most outside of business hours. This could easily be a game changer during emergency situations.

The ease at which people can maintain communication is an exceptionally practical benefit of social networking. Within the social care sector, for example, this could be put to use by families who have been separated. Encouraging social media use in such a situation can alleviate the stress experienced by family members who are living apart. By offering workshops to those who are not entirely confident in their use of the internet, and technology in general, a new skill set can be provided which also helps service users to build confidence.

When it comes to the care of elderly people, there is a constant struggle to maintain standards as it can be problematic to monitor those in positions of responsibility. This problem is exacerbated due to the isolation that is experienced by many elderly people. Social media is an incredibly useful tool for combating this problem as it provides the elderly with a platform to keep in touch with their friends and family. This becomes even more important when those people are suffering from reduced mobility or live long distances from their support network. When these people have easy access to other people, they are more likely to report a problem and less likely to experience loneliness and the side effects of it. Providing the means for elderly people to meet and interact with each other via online social groups also helps to improve the quality of life for those living alone.

It is not only the person in need of care who can benefit from social media but also anybody tasked with supporting and caring for them. It is an unfortunate truth that carers frequently experience financial hardship as well as increased isolation and stress. Having access to online social groups where they can share problems and obtain advice and support of their own is pivotal to avoiding further problems.

It seems the benefits of social media are never-ending and people are constantly finding new ways to revolutionise existing services with it. As more and more people get involved with online social networking, the greater the potential for new ideas to develop becomes.