Everything changes…

I read a really interesting blog post a few days ago by one of my favourite bloggers @parthaskar Broken?” In this blog Partha asks if Twitter is broken, he remembers a time when “Twitter used to be a milder place, actually a fun place, a place to learn, a place sometimes for support. That world still exists, albeit shrunk. It bristles with indignation, with anger” I have to say I agree with Partha Twitter has changed since those early days, things are different however my thoughts are that we live in a different time to that of 5 years ago when I first started blogging and tweeting.  Ok, I agree, I am somewhat stating the obvious here so let me explain:

Twitter does not have the same feel as it did 5 years ago, could this be largely due to the fact that the world does not have the same feel as it did five years ago? We live in times of austerity, political flux and uncertainty in healthcare and this is bound to effect what people say and what people share in social media spaces. Heraclitus was once famed to have said:




A wise man that Heraclitus! Every time we step into Twitter its not the same and we are not the same.  We may not notice the subtleties, of change in temperature, change in composition, or the even the increase in fish from day to day and its only through looking back that we see what appear to be vast changes instead of an ever evolving thing.  But perhaps we need to look forwards ?

Heres where I come back to Parthas blog post and his thought that many people would like Twitter to be “a continued space of education and support.” I stand amongst those people and although this function still exists we also have the political (sometimes angst ridden) melting pot that sits alongside, which is by no means wrong … just different to what it used to be.  I guess what I am saying is its up to us!

The ecosystem of Twitter is as complex as human nature itself and the only thing we can be certain of is that it will continue to change. This is our space to shape and influence so lets ensure that it’s a balanced and productive space.


Are we ready for social CPD?

It was some 2 years ago now that Calvin Moorley and I wrote for the Journal of Advanced Nursing Using Social Media For Continuous Professional Development and much has changed.  Revalidation has been implemented and more and more nurses are engaging professionally via social media.  However I think much of this article is still very relevant and the concept of using social media for CPD is still very new to some.

A few weeks ago someone asked how many nurses were using social media for continuing professional development, not being sure of the answer I thought that a quick straw poll via Twitter might shed some light:

Screenshot 2016-07-11 14.56.49

A resounding (and I say resounding for reasons that will become clear in a moment) 37% said yes!! So why resounding … well I think that’s pretty amazing as look at how far we have come … it wasn’t so long ago that social media in nursing was totally frowned upon and here we are at a stage where people are using it to inform their work.  What was more interesting were some of the comments we received following this poll:

Screenshot 2016-07-11 14.57.01 Screenshot 2016-07-11 14.57.25 Screenshot 2016-07-11 14.57.37

Which is pretty wonderful as people clearly are thinking about it, and I started to think that maybe as peoples time to Revalidate comes closer this will spur them into action? Then I read Jenny Clarkes blog post Revalidation – My Journey and I loved how she made a passing reference to using social media for her CPD … it made it all so common place and .. well .. normal! Social media is part of our everyday “normal” lives and it’s becoming part of our everyday “normal” working lives, some of us are further along on this journey than others but its wonderful to see how nurses (and midwives) are creatively using their time in social media spaces to inform their work as practitioners.

This leaves me with a few questions? How do we help the “not yets”? How can we make using social media for CPD easy and accessible? How do we help people to become socially CPD savvy? Here are some of my suggestions:

  • Just because a conversation is virtual don’t rule it out as a learning point for CPD
  • Be open to learning anything from anywhere – a tweet, a YouTube video, a blog, a Twitterchat, a Facebook post, an inforgraphic (I could go on!)
  • Remember to critically appraise the information you are presented with – this doesn’t have to be formal but it’s important to always dig a little deeper and not take things at face value
  • Use #MyWe – its fab for reflecting on Twitter Chats for CPD (and its free!!)
  • Use blogs to their full potential – comment on them, add your reflections and join in discussions in the comments section, take screen shots and add them to your portfolio.  Also write your own blog and use it to reflect on practice and learning (the WeBlog is really simple and easy to use for those of you without a blog of your own) and add this to your CPD portfolio
  • Think differently – no matter what social media you use or how you use it think a little differently about it, ask yourself the question “can I use this for CPD?” if the answers yes take a screen shot and save it
  • Share what you learn from so that others can use it for their CPD too
  • Share the value of using social media for CPD with colleagues (there are some handy posters HERE and HERE that may help)

Of course, I don’t have all of the answers, merely a few suggestions … the wonderful thing about social media though is that one thought often leads to another and I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions around social CPD.

Build it and they will come?

I don’t know who first said “Build it and they will come” I vaguely recall some 90’s movie with aliens and a cornfield but I am not even sure if they were the first to coin the phrase … anyway “Build it and they will come” … what utter nonsense !!! Yet it seems to be a phrase that I am hearing with alarming regularity in healthcare social media so let me clarify this here and now, at no point at anytime in the history of life the universe and everything has the hard work stopped once we have “built” something … there is no doubt in my mind that it’s once you have built the hard work really starts.


I guess that you are probably wondering what on earth am I rambling about this time ! Well here’s the crux – it seems that all too often in healthcare that we create a hashtag, create a video, create a blog or even create an infographic and then sit back think we have done all the hard work so we don’t have to do anything now …. Errrrrr wrong !  Yes its brilliant that we have this fab stuff but unless we do something with it then all our hard work is pointless.

Let me put it another way … imagine you built a shop, and in that shop you decided to sell everything that ever existed and a few more things besides… it’s a pretty cool shop.  However there is absolutely no point in just building the shop, how will people know about it? How will they know how to get there? How will they know how to use the shop, is it self service or do you ask at the counter? How will people know why they should visit your shop? Who will serve people in the shop? How will you evaluate that your shop is a success? How will you improve with your next shop?  ….. this is exactly the same in social media.


If we have created something cool, something useful to nursing, something amazing that we want people to share, help develop or use we need to do more than just merely build it.  We need to consider:

  • Shouting (in the social media sense) about it … tweet about it, FB about it, share it, share it again and keep sharing it
  • Use role models and advocates to help you share it and show people how to use what you have created
  • If needed create instructions – this is often needed if you are asking people to participate in or do something eg a webinar or a twitterchat
  • Make sure there are people who’s role is to drive sharing and engagement around your cool stuff
  • Measure what you do, how it works, collect feedback
  • Evaulate, work out how you can do it better next time
  • Do not underestimate the resources it takes to do social media .. and even more so to do it well

Build it an they will come should be left firmly in the 90’s … doing social media well means putting in a whole heap of work … but it is so worth it when you see the difference it can make to the people we care for.


To selfie or not to selfie ….

Selfies at conferences … where to start?  Well ever since someone was smart enough to reverse the camera on a smart phone (and in fact before then, though selfie quality was much diminished and you often ended up with a picture of your left ear!) selfies have been a part of our social media spaces.  Now I have to admit – I am a fan of the humble selfie, its good to meet people and take a picture and then hang it in a social media space .. its fun, it’s part of a ritual and it’s a good way to keep memories of great events.  However (and here’s where I duck for cover) I think that there is a time and a place.

Let me add a little context here…

Over the last five years nurses have worked hard to break down boundaries, to get healthcare and nursing to take social media seriously, and there can be no doubt that we have made great strides.  There are now more nurse bloggers than ever, twitter chats are not only being used to share information, ideas and expertise but also being used for CPD and as part of revalidation, evidence and research is being shared,  best practice is being disseminated and developed, and nursing issues are being debated constructively and productively.

In addition to this nursing itself (regardless of social media) continues to promote the ideas that care is anything but basic, that no nurse is “just a nurse”, that nurses need a degree education in order to deliver the very best care, and that nursing is a profession that is based in evidence and research.

I have often said that social media gives us global expertise in the palm of our hand but there is a flip side to this … with access to global expertise comes the plain and simple fact that we too are on that global stage.  Social media puts us – and by us I mean nursing – front and centre, whether we like it or not the second we set foot into social media spaces we are “on show”  And herein lies my problem with selfies at conferences  … is this the image of nursing that we want to portray at  national events? Isn’t this a bit trivial? Isn’t trivialising nursing what we are all working hard to eradicate?

Ok … lets just hold fire a moment and get one thing very clear …. I am not saying ban the conference selfie ! Perhaps I ought to say that again … I am not saying ban the conference selfie (hoping that’s clear now!)  I take selfies at conferences from time to time and as I stated above I think they are becoming an interesting part of modern culture and have a purpose that is based in fun and bonding.  What I am saying is lets make sure we get the balance right.

So how do we get the balance right ? I’m not sure I have all the answers but here are some of my suggestions to conference organisers:

  • Be your conference role model – use your own account to share the tweets highlight the amazing work that nurses do and how great your conference is, let that be your global image
  • Encourage those who are sharing the conference well
  • Have some role models in the room, people who tweet well and can convey the key messages of the conference
  • Encourage selfies at break times
  • Give people some top tips on conference tweeting before they come
  • Share the speakers Twitter handles – this may sound a bit off the wall but give people the tools they need to share the important messages
  • Have great wifi – again this mean that people don’t just tweet at breaks and the selfies don’t take over

And my advice to all those tweeting nurses out there? Just remember that nursing is so much more than a selfie.



Back at the start of the year WeCommunities held it’s own “Conference” – I put this in inverted commas as it was more like a get together (WeGetTogether) than a conference in the traditional sense of the word – anyway, I am diversifying slightly (nothing new there!) the point is that through the WeGetTogether I learnt so much about the art of the possible regarding social media and conferences.  I have been to many conferences and witnessed so many more via Twitter and I feel that we have somewhat lost the plot when it comes to why we use social media during conferences.

I have long since thought that in order to make social media work for us and our organisations we have to look beyond just being on social media and ticking that social media box and look to our purpose here.  Correct me if I am wrong, the purpose of a conference is to:

  • Share information and knowledge,
  • Bring people together to enable them to network
  • Bring people together in order to make decisions or forward plan

Soooooo my question is … why is it acceptable to merely associate a hashtag to a conference and then flood the timeline with a whole heap of useless noise and selfies !!! This is particularly frustrating if you are watching the conference from afar, as a conference that has a “tick box hashtag” serves no purpose whatsoever, and, in fact, is counter productive as it just frustrates and annoys people.  Some of the things I have seen as recent as this week, that are a direct result of “tick box hashtags”  (and yes it is only Monday!) include:

  • Multiple hashtags for one conference (causing confusion for conference goer and conference watcher alike)
  • Conference hashtags streams full of selfies – even promoted by the conference organisers themselves! (whilst I like a good selfie there does need to be balance here!)
  • Useless information – eg Joe Blogs is now speaking …. Arrrggghhhhh !! We would love to know what he is saying !!!
  • Not enough links to live streaming – by which I mean that it is tweeted once at the start of the day and not promoted enough throughout the day for watchers to find
  • Ignoring tweets coming in to the conference – no mechanism to ensure that those watching the conference are included

Believe it or not I could go on … isn’t it time that we put a little thought into this? Isn’t it time that we revisited the purpose of conferences? And the purpose of using social media at conferences? If we want to hold a conference to share information, to bring people together and to forward plan why on earth are we not putting more thought to the people who are outside of the four walls of our conference?

When we put together WeGetTogether we had three aims (I would love to call it a triple aim but alas that title is already taken!)

some x3 conf aims

I cant admit to getting it all right first time but some of the things we did worked very well indeed:

Broadcasting / Taking the inside out – we used multiple social media including Twitter, Blogs, Vines and Periscope to engage people.  We made our agenda short, sociable and shareable.  We had student volunteers who Tweeted out informative and relevant tweets and were active role models for engaging. We held concurrent Twitter chats that sat alongside the agenda topics.   We made sure that the hashtag was visible – on every slide and on all of the literature.  We shared speakers Twitter handles.

Listening / Bringing the outside in – We had people whose specific job was to listen to social media and feed points back into the room.  We held Twitter chats and fed the main points back into the room.  We had large and visible Twitter walls  – that were uncensored. And, again, student volunteers really helped with listening to what was going on in social media and actively engaging.

Networking / Helping people to network – We had QR codes on each badge that people could scan to follow newly met friends.  We encouraged people to follow the people in the Twitter hashtag stream

If you are holding a conference it is not longer acceptable to just create a hashtag.  The social media part of the conference is as important as the conference itself – it spreads your message, it enables ideas from inside and outside of the room to be shared, it helps to make your audience feel valued (as opposed to the privileged few who can make the conference) and it enables both watchers and conference goers to network before, during and after the event. Doing social media well means ensuring that information and opportunities are accessible to all … it’s disappointing when all we see is a half-hearted hashtag with a stream of selfies! 


Sharing scribbles

A good few weeks ago now I downloaded a new drawing app, I really love creative apps that allow me to explore ideas in new ways and this app was right up my street .. so I sat down to think and scribble about my favourite subject at the moment … doing social media well! This nice thing about this app was that it enables me to screen shot my scribbles and share them via twitter … which is what I did!

social medai well 2

My thoughts were following a Twitter conversation I had with @Damian_Roland around innovation – hence my starting point was the graph that he shared during that conversation.  I have felt for sometime that our message around social media and health needed to change and Damian strengthened those feelings – we need to stop talking about doing social media in health and start to talk about how we can do it well. Which then got me thinking about what “well” looks like.  So I drew a few ideas and shared them on Twitter – the really great thing about sharing ideas is that they can start to evolve and be improved upon … however this takes a little courage.  Most people shared my scribbles at face value however a few people, people who clearly do social media well entered into a conversation with me about how my thoughts could be improved upon.

Someone somewhere once said “Two heads are better than one” well that person clearly didn’t have access to social media and the collaborative power that it offers because it seems to me that sharing and developing ideas is a great way to use social media in nursing for those who have courage to share and those who are courageous enough to comment and give their thoughts.

So back to my scribbles – what happened to them? Well I did go back to them after I shared them (it was a good few weeks after, as time seemed to run away with me, as it often does!) I looked at the tweets and revisited my drawing app, I added in an umbrella of safety and tidied up a few bits here and there …. what do you think? Are you brave enough to say ? ;D



On a mission ..

Waaaayyyyy back when I first started blogging and tweeting I read a book called Socialnomics by Eric Qualman, who is not a nurse or in healthcare – I know I am asking you to trust me here when I say the book is a fab read with many pearls of social media wisdom that are entirely transferable to healthcare and nursing….. anyway I am diversifying slightly here, it is a good book but the point is that in that book Qualman states:

“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media the question is how well we do it” 

I have to say that even back then I totally agreed with this however I realised that we had to get nurses to make a leap from using social media to using it on a professional basis – and whilst i am aware that there are many who are still struggling with this leap I feel that we need to move forward. I am currently on a bit of a mission … I think we need to stop talking about using social media, as we are here, we are using it (Ofcom tell us we are!) Lets move forward and talk about doing social media well … how can we, as nurses,  use social media to both inform our work and as part of our work?

Well the wonderful @JennyTheM and I have created a little starting point – The ABC’s of doing Twitter well ….

abc final

I hope to be tweeting, blogging and sharing lots in the coming moths around how we can do social media well as nurses – but for now a big thank you to @JennyTheM for helping me to kick start this mission

Living on the edge

I have just got back from spending a lovely few days with @JennyTheM (do you follow her on Twitter? If not then please do as her wonderful compassionate nature simply shines through) Jenny is one of those people who has taken Twitter by storm and her work with #SkinToSkin shows how much the ladies she cares for are at the heart of it all … Anyway I am diversifying slightly because it’s actually a conversation that Jenny and I had over a cup of delicious tea (in beautiful bird mugs no less!) that I want to share with you:

danger-851895_1920I’m not quite sure how we migrated into the subject but we started talking about “the edge” that place where all the amazing innovation takes place, the periphery’s of organisations where people stand alone seeing the future! Jenny and I both agreed that that “bloomin edge” is a pretty scary and lonely place to be, often the people you work with are safe in the middle not understanding the edge at all, wary of you and stepping out beside you. And knowing that at some point you may have to jump off the edge, as it seems the only way forward, is the most frightening thing EVER!

It’s a pretty long drive from Blackpool to Bristol and on my way home my mind was buzzing with the energy and ideas I got from being with Jenny and spending time with her just chatting.  My mind wandered back to “the bloomin edge” conversation and how it sometimes feel that you are stood on the edge of a cliff, being able to see the fab future, but all the time the cliff edge is being eroded away.  I thought about how it is a scary place to be ….. And then I thought …. Hang on a minute !! That doesn’t sound right ! Why would we be stood on the edge of a cliff waiting for it to be eroded away ? And the answer is we are not … And there it was, the lightbulb switching on!

bridge-918760_1920There are many people at “the bloomin edge” all being able to see and reaching for a part of the future.  We may not always see each other but after my few days with Jenny I am confident we are all there.  And we aren’t just stood there either, waiting for the erosion … We are building and creating.  Some of us may be building bridges. Some of us may be building kites and some of us may be building rocket ships …. As the cliff erodes we are busy ensuring we can get to the future.  Yes it’s scary but no we don’t have to jump, we can walk, ride and fly.

It’s pretty amazing to spend quality time drinking tea with people who are looking to the future and working to make things better …. Thank you @JennyTheM for an amazing few days and for giving me a whole new perspective on living on “the bloomin edge”


Mood hoovers, mountains, heretics and changing the world!

The world is full of mood hoovers – you know those people who say you can’t, or you shouldn’t, or don’t see the point or even those who say but this is the way we have always done it ! It’s frustrating at times and being resilient and staying positive in the presence of mood hoovers is bloomin trcky !! So what do we do ? Do we avoid them ? Its pretty difficult to as they are literally everywhere ! So do we ignore them ? Well thats good to a certain extent but it can get you down at times ….

One of the great things about social media and in particular Twitter is the ability to connect and meet people who you would never normally meet.  The informal support networks that are developed from 140 character conversations can be very powerful indeed. Twitter for me is the antidote to the Mood Hoovers. Having written and shared my last blog Next Opportunity – A lesson in resilience I was reminded of the support that connecting in 140 characters can offer. I shared my blog around the problems and frustrations of promoting and driving the importance of doing social media well and I received a reminder of the fact that I am not on this journey alone and shared this conversation with the lovely @wlasinclair:

Screenshot 2016-04-11 18.41.48

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This conversation was hugely important, it may have seemed a little frivolous and light hearted but it served a massive purpose – it was a conversation that reminded me that I was not alone, and that there were others climbing this mountain too.  In a Slideshare by Helen Bevan she asks “How does it feel to be a heretic / rebel / radical / maverick?” and answers with this picture:


And this is how it can feel driving new things and new ways of doing things .. like a lone voice.  Further on in the Slideshare Helen talks about the importance of building alliances .. for me Twitter is vital for this.  Building relationships and gaining support from others is no longer a local thing, support and alliances can come from anywhere thanks to the global platform that is Twitter. Those who think that they can change the world are finding support and enthusiasm and this is a great way to build resilience against those hoovers of mood.

steve jobs

There are many of us climbing this mountain and it’s great to have company on such a huge hike.  There are times when some of us flag and there are even times when some of us fall, and some of us are pushed down by those dratted mood hoovers… However connecting via Twitter has ensured that there is always someone there to pick us up or help us along.  So having said in my last blog that it’s time to be resilient and move on to the next opportunity I am now confident that whatever the future holds we are climbing this mountain together … And I a reliably informed that there is cake and fizz at the top :)

Next Opportunity – a lesson in resilience

I read a blog by OFCOM recently that shared some statistics around our online activity and how in the last decade our time spent online has doubled and how the use of social media has tripled since 2007.  The blog also stated that 81% of social media users check their social media apps at least once a day.  That’s some pretty impressive statistics yet despite this evidence that the uptake and understanding of social media is on the rise I still get days when I feel like I am banging my head against a proverbial brick wall.  A while ago I shared this tweet:

Screenshot 2016-04-06 20.31.49

The use of social media in healthcare is a big leap, and using social media productively and well within healthcare is an even bigger leap, however with statistics like the ones above isn’t it time that we started to look at where this could take us and the huge amount of good it can do?

On a personal level social media can help to connect us professionally, help us to learn, help us to answer questions, help us to reflect and help us with our continuing professional development.  On an organisational level social media can help us to really engage and listen to the people we care for, our staff  and the wider public.  By being in a space where a whole load of people are engaging everyday we can really start to make a difference and tap into a global expertise … however we need to engage and engage well.  We need to stop ticking the social media box and start to think “how can I / we use this to help me / us?”

I feel like I have been saying this for sometime – and it’s nothing new.  Way back when I first started engaging on social media I came across this quote from Eric Qualman:


These thoughts are nothing new – so why am I blogging about this now, I hear you ask?  Well some days the “no we don’t do social media” can be hard to face.  I guess that there is something here about resilience and keeping going … and having shared a few thoughts on Twitter today my energy was renewed by this tweet:

Screenshot 2016-04-06 20.32.09

Trying to promote and drive a new way of doing things can be hard at times; to believe that doing social media well can really make a difference when people say NO can be disheartening.  Yet strength and resilience can come from the wonderful healthcare communities on Twitter, showing and proving that indeed social media can make a difference.  This is me saying NO … Next Opportunity .. reframing and keeping going.