The Community Nurse And The Use Of Social Media

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The community nurse and the use of social media
Ian Peate

Ian Peate is an Independent Consultant and Editor-In-Chief of the British Journal of Nursing


ocial media - the sharing of ideas using online networks and communities - has the potential to offer significant opportunities for organisations and individuals to listen and engage in conversations with the people that they wish to influence and community nurses are no exception.
Managers are required to provide staff with guidance and training in what is and is not acceptable behaviour online. From a strategic perspective the next generation of community nurses will never have known a world without the internet or mobile phones.
The ways in which community nurses embrace the use of social media for the benefit of patients and staff will be an essential element in creating sustainable health and social care services.
Healthcare policy has moved towards the patient being empowered to make choices about their care and with the patient at the heart of all that community nurses do
(Department of Health (DH), 2012a). This might regard which GP practice a patient registers with (opening GP practice boundaries), where patients elect to have surgical

The role and function of the community nurse has changed in a number of ways over the years; however, central to that role is the direct hands-on care that expert nurses provide to a variety of client groups. Social media can never replace that unique role yet it can help the community nurse provide safer and more effective care. The use of social media is growing and is having a significant influence on society. Social media can dictate tomorrow’s news today, provide individuals with a public voice and help to form new social connections regardless of geography. Social media has become embedded within our daily lives. For community nurses social media networks offer alternative ways in which they can share knowledge and expertise and keep up to date. This article intends to stimulate thoughts about how social media could be used positively by the community nurse and his or her organisation to help meet the future demands on the NHS and community nursing services.

Communication w social media w patient care w policy



operations (choose and book) or how they access their personal GP records by the time GP records go online by 2015 (NHS Employers, 2013). The way nurses work and communicate with each other is changing; nurses no longer physically (geographically) work as closely with other health professionals as they used to. Social media can offer new and different ways for nurses to engage with each other.
Ofcom (2011) estimated that nearly half (48%) of UK adults used social networking sites in the first three months of 2011, up from 40% in 2010. Total time spent on social networking sites was 1.3% higher in April 2011 than it was in April 2010. Most of those using social media sites, use them for their own personal use (Arno, 2012) but community nurses can use them professionally.

What is social media?
The term social media can mean many things. It has become a term or category that includes a variety of different possibilities for a number of internet-based platforms that can enable people to communicate in various ways.
Although ‘media’ is plural, it is usual to refer to
‘social media’ in the singular because of its use as an encompassing name.
In Mayfield’s (2008) ebook he suggests that social media is best understood as a group of new kinds of online media, which share most or all of the following characteristics: w Participation w Openness w Conversation w Community w Connectedness
There are a number of popular social media platforms
(Table 1).Those platforms outlined in Table 1 are some of the more well-known ones, but are just a few of the many hundreds of social media platforms available.
PwC (formerly PriceWaterhouseCoopers) Research
Institute (2012),