Smiling when you Tweet

Before you go any further dear Reader this blog comes with a sparkling and fluffy warning … I happen to like sparkly and fluffy but I know there are many who do not.  If you are a decidedly unsparkly and unfluffy person then I suggest you close your browser right now !

Ok so now we have everyone here who can do sparkly and fluffy we can crack on with this blog post.  This blog post is inspired by a Tweet that I saw out of the corner of my eye this week.  It the split second in which I merely saw it and didn’t read it I thought it was a picture sharing Twitter tips:

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Of course the picture was not tweeting tips but a “Wellbeing Bucket” – which I can only assume is a pictorial representation of things to help with our wellbeing … and its very lovely. (Thank you to @KathEvans2 for sharing it)

It’s pretty easy to see why, at first glance, I thought it was about Twitter – being polite, being kind, sharing, listening, being helpful and including others are all great traits to demonstrate in the Twittersphere.  However it was the inclusion of “smile” that got me thinking … would I also include this? Is smiling relevant on Twitter?

I started to think about all the Twitter users who I really like, the ones who brighten up my day:

egg-680584_1280@kathevans2 (who shared this tweet) was the first person to spring to mind, Kath is definitely a Smiley Tweeter, her tweets are both informative and positive.

@lillybubs was another person who I felt definitely smiles when she tweets, her bubbly and sparkly attitude shines through

Perhaps some not quite so obvious Smiley Tweeters are people like @TrishaTheDoc and @LisaSaysThis – they may not always agree with what you say but their tweets show a kindness of heart just makes me feel that they must smile.

But it’s @Pam007Nelmes who is clearly the best Smiley Tweeter ever, Pam proves that 140 seemingly insignificant characters can do so much good.  I bet my nursing hat and cape that Pam smiles and tweets.

I figure that I am sounding pretty sickly sweet fluffy and sparkly, probably with oodles of glitter on top by now (you were forewarned) so I guess I should explain what I mean by a Smiley Tweeter.  I am not sure I really know myself but I know I am not talking about having an inane grin on you face whilst you check your Twitter stream on the bus, and I know its not merely laughing out loud at the latest cat picture to hit our screens.  Its also not about agreeing with everything that everyone says as Smiley Tweeters can, and do, disagree and challenge thinking.  I think its more about an inherent kindness and compassion, its about caring for others, its about respect for fellow Twitter user no matter who they are, its about sharing and its about being human.  The more and more I think about it the more I know that people who “smile” when they tweet are the people I enjoy being around.


Nursing shoes?

Way back when I first started Tweetchatting and WeNurses someone very lovely shared the Starfish story with me:


Being a nurse on Twitter is much like being a nurse full stop, we spend our lives throwing starfish and “making a difference to that one” however very often we do not know the true impact of our actions and the ripples that we create, we often just hope, that once we have played our part, things are better for the people we care for, in one way or another.  Being a nurse on Twitter I often have conversations and chats with many other nurses and healthcare professionals, never knowing if conversations have any impact, but hoping that the ripples created go some way to improving things and making a difference.  This week I was “totally floored” (as the kids say) when I finally met a long time Twitter friend and found out how the work that WeNurses does had made a difference to her.

Now there are a few people on Twitter that I feel I have grown up with, they are the people who have been there from the start and have supported and shaped (even though they may not know it) WeNurses into what it is today.  They are indeed a very small amount of people, I can count them on one hand, and some I have met and some I have yet to meet.  @NursieDeb – Debbie – is one of these people.  I remember from the start the amazing energy she had and how her passion for nursing really shone through on Twitter … however as Debbie lives in Scotland and I live in Bristol the chances for us to meet are practically non existent … or so I thought …..

At the weekend my lovely husband and daughter took me to London to go hat shopping, for my forthcoming MBE investiture, we had planned to spend the day in London, see some family and hopefully come away with the all important big hat!!! Whilst walking down Carnaby Street we came across one of my favourite shoe shops “Irregular Choice” – or as my daughter and I like to call it “shoes for princesses” – it was an entirely co-incidental, or so I thought. My husband encouraged me to go inside and try on some shoes! Ok, at this point I have to say I thought my husband was acting a bit weirdly, as he would never normally encourage me to buy shoes, however I brushed it off and made the most of it.  My daughter saw a lovely pair of flip flops and asked if she could try them on, so the shop assistant went to get her size and we waited.  Another shop assistant then appeared with a shoe box and opened it and started to pull out some very lovely shoes that clearly weren’t flip flops ….. by this point I was feeling a little discombobulated and said to the shop assistant “ errmmm those aren’t flip flops” at which point she looked at me and say “no Teresa they aren’t, they are very special  shoes for nurses!!!!” Ok, so now I must have looked absolutely lost and confused because I certainly felt it ……. The shop assistant asked “do you know who I am?“  I kind of did, but the confusion was still rife ….. “I’m Debbie” she said !!!

Oh my goodness !!! It was @NursieDeb – DEBBIE !!! With shoes, for me !!! Of course the shoes were by the by for a moment and Debbie and I had a huge hug and I incoherently started to talk about forgetting tissues and not having waterproof mascara on! Then I noticed there were lots of people in the shop, and someone taking pictures … and remembered the shoes !!!

So heres what had happened (the bit i didn’t know but slowly came out over the next half an hour) – Debbie had written to Irregular Choice asking them if they would make some special nurse shoes for me to go to the palace in for my MBE investiture, and they did …… and here they are:


May I stress that they are nurse shoes and NOT shoes for nursing !!!! ;D

I never knew the impact that WeNurses had had on Debbie but as we talked more, and I tried not to cry a bit more (no waterproof mascara!), it became apparent that some of the ripples I had created had made a difference to one starfish.

Debbie is one of the most amazing people I have ever met and I am truly blessed to know her, she is knowledgeable, passionate, friendly, supportive and most of all she cares – I felt truly humbled that she thinks so much of me to have done this amazing thing, when in actually fact Debbie has also made a huge difference to me. Nursing friendships are one of the most awesome things and although Debbie may feel that I picked her up and threw her back into the sea … I know she has also done the same for me.

shoes 2

So this blog is to really say thank you …. Thank You to my Husband and Daughter who are the most sneaky secret keepers ever, Thank You to Irregular Choice for taking the time to listen to Debbie and to stop and care .. and, of course, for the lovely nurse shoes ….. Thank You to Josh from Irregular Choice for making us feel so welcome …..BUT most of all THANK YOU to Debbie who is more than a starfish she is a SHINING STAR :D


Saying the right thing .. (PUNC Response Part 2)

As with my previous post in this series “Keeping Up (PUNC Response Part 1) I have been meaning to write this blog for quite a while, but the feedback I have had from some PUNCs. (Plymouth University Nursing Cohort) regarding Tweetchats and their value has kick started my thinking – for which I thank them for :)

I remember when I first started Tweeting … It was some 5 years ago now … There were no NMC Social Networking Guidelines, no advice from NHS Employers and my employer didn’t have a social media policy … I wasn’t even sure if I could Tweet as a nurse, but knew I wanted to reach out to other nurses and so tentatively took some first Tweeting steps as the anonymous @AgencyNurse.  It was very difficult in those early days to know what to tweet, to get comfortable and confident with what to say …. Today things are very different, there are lots more nurses tweeting and there is a plethora of guidance to help nurses take those first steps.


Until I read the PUNCs feedback it hadn’t really crossed my mind that Student Nurses would be so worried about what they Tweet during Tweetchats … So I am so grateful that they brought this up.  Tweeting as a nurse for the first time can be scary however tweeting as a student nurse requires a huge amount of courage.  Thinking back there are a few things that may have helped me gain confidence in my early anonymous tweeting days around what I should tweet and how I should approach things during Twitter discussions, so let me share them with you:

Know your guidance - Have a read of the NMC’s Guidance On Using Social Media Responsibly and your local Social Media Policy – its helpful to know whats what and is a really good place to start.  I also really like this, as its short, sweet and to the point, and it goes beyond a do this and don’t do that approach and leans more towards a way of thinking:


Be a lurker – spend some time just watching and see how other people do it. watch a few tweet chats and learn from other nurses.

Its not what you say but how you say it – someone once said this to me and I think it’s a very wise piece of advice. If you make it a rule to always be polite and kind then this helps enormously! It can be tricky to get your meaning into 140 characters but saying it nicely always helps :)

Be bold ? - Instead of making a bold statement I sometimes take a questioning approach Especially if I know it’s not my area of expertise. eg “What do people think of the use of honey to heal wounds?” Instead of “I think honey for wound healing is the best thing since sliced bread!”

Refer to evidence – if someone says something you are not so sure about or you don’t know about ask them if they know of any evidence around that Tweet. Or if you want to make a bold statement then add in the evidence that backs it up.


Remember it’s a discussion – Tweetchats (as with Twitter in general) are a discussion not a broadcast, be prepared to engage in the discussion and be engaged with! Through discussion we can learn so much.

Everyone adds value – no matter who you are or where you are in your nursing journey (or even if you are not a nurse!) remember everyone has a valuable perspective and has something interesting to say …. Even you !!

Getting it all in – of course there are times when 140 characters are just so darned difficult, especially when taking part in a Tweetchat & you are going for a speedy response. In these situations I tend to write my tweet know I will go over the word count then cut out the bits that are not needed ….or cheat and use two Tweets!

Most importantly …..

Just be you ! What you bring to and what you tweet in a Tweetchat is valuable.  It brings your unique perspective, it gives other Tweetchat participants an insight into where you are coming from.  Be proud, be confident, be you :))

Once again can I extend my huge thanks to the PUNCs for taking the time to feedback and to Professor Ray Jones for passing on the feedback to me.

Keeping up (PUNC response Part 1) …

I have been meaning to write this blog for quite a while, but have been spurred on by feedback I have received about Tweetchats from some PUNCs.  By PUNCs I mean the lovely Plymouth University Nursing Cohort, and not rockers with green and pink hair and loud music! In their feedback the PUNCs said that in general Tweetchats were valuable, however one of the points made was that some students found it difficult to keep up, especially when new to Twitter. I hope in this blog I can help with the keeping up part of that feedback …

tweeting-150413_1280When I first started #WeNurses Tweetchats were a lot slower paced with fewer participants – these days Tweetchats can have over 200 people taking part at any one time ….keeping up can be tricky !!

Here are are few tricks to help the PUNCs and you (passing blog reading person) get the most out of Twitter chatting:

twitter-245460_1280Don’t stress !! Sounds simple doesn’t it? Twitter is merely a conversation and we each do that many times a day, don’t we ? Well maybe not if you are a hermit but I am guessing as a nurse a hermit existence many be a little challenging!  . There is a little secret that I will let you into that helps me not to stress …. no one keeps up !! You can’t possibly read it all in such a short space of time and you will miss stuff … So don’t worry, just stick to the few tweets that catch your eye and answer them.

Try seeing things from another perspective – try a different platform to Tweetchat from. WeCommunities have the Chat Now page, but others worth try are Tweetdeck or tchat. Find a platform that you are comfy with – what works well for one person doesn’t always work well for the next.

Screenshot 2015-04-04 10.19.54Look out for the #EBP tweets.  Although lots of knowledge and experience is shared throughout Tweetchats the links to evidence are also important.  When people add #EBP to their tweet too (in addition to the chat hashtag) it means they are sharing a relevant piece of evidence.  Unless you are a super fast speed reader it’s probably not best to read these links during the Tweetchat but search for them all afterwards … Just type #EBP and the Tweetchat hashtag into the search box and hey presto all of the evidence is before you eyes!! Find out more about #EBP here.

Check your notifications – ok I know I said don’t stress but it is really important as this is “social” media that we are polite and kind and don’t ignore people …. So take time directly after the Tweetchat to check your twitter notifications and reply to any direct comments or questions.  Just politely say “Oops sorry missed this .. But ….” (Or words to that effect) People don’t mind, in fact they are normally quite please that you responded.

There’s always a transcript !! Here I refer to and reinforce my first point too of “Don’t stress” … Most Tweetchats have a transcript shared afterwards, with WeCommunities it’s automatically generated so available straight after the discussion, so just head to the relevant chat page on the website and read at your leisure. #NoStress

kringel-277997_1280Slow it down !! With some Twitter chats a summary of the discussion is available – this is usually someone’s reflection of the discussion written in blog form.  With WeNurses discussions we aim to do this within 24 hours of the Tweetchat … In addition to this you can also add comments to these summaries, so any points you wish to make in the longer and more considered format of blogging you can.


Follow afterwards – Twitter is all about people and making connections so it’s really important to follow all of the interesting people you have just met on the Tweetchat afterwards.  That way you can continue to have useful and interesting conversations beyond formal Twitter chatting … So connect and make new friends .. Be social !

Practice makes perfect.  Ok so who of you out there managed to ride a bike the first time you sat on it ?? I am betting not many (if any) as with any skill tweet chatting takes a little practice. Spend some time lurking and watching, then send a few Tweets, maybe post a post chat summary comment, then see how you get on with adding a few tweets into a discussion.  Take it at your own speed … and always remember my first point .. DON’T STRESS !!

With no time at all and the few tips above you will be getting a huge amount of value from discussing with your peers via Tweetchats…. And the you are ready for the next step of running a Tweetchat !!

mascot-48563_1280 (1)

Of course these are just my tips and I encourage you, Dear Reader, to add your own tips below by adding your comments.

In my next few blogs I hope to address some more of the PUNCs very valuable feedback and in turn provide a little more of an in depth guide to Tweetchats and getting the most out of them.

Lastly can I extend my huge thanks to the PUNCs for taking the time to feedback and to Professor Ray Jones for passing on the feedback to me.

No purpose, no point!

Last Friday I spent a day at Nottingham University with a small group of healthcare professionals from BAME Connect – a black, Asian and minority ethnic group.  Myself and Sarah Amani (@s_amani) were invited by Stacy Johnson (@misssdjohnson) to hold a workshop around the use of social media and how it can be used to connect, learn and support.

ID-10094437As a little bit of an ice breaker Sarah and I got the group to kick off the day by talking to each other and then introducing each other – you know the type of thing, great to get people chatting at the start of a day.  The first person to introduce the person sat next to him politely told us her name, and her job role and then said “and she doesn’t do all of this” (at which point he waved his hand in the general direction of computers and ipads) “as she thinks that often theres no purpose!” …….

(Image courtesy of graur codrin at

sign-429419_1280Well time seemed to slow down and I think I must have visibly paled! The words “tough crowd” went through my mind …. But then both Sarah and I seemed to instinctively take the same approach …. We agreed with her !!! She was right ….. social media is pointless if it has no purpose.  There has to be a reason for organisations to engage and for people to engage otherwise, there has to be some sort of direction, otherwise its just time wasting.  Of course those reasons can be wide and diverse, from support to spreading a message and from learning to sharing cat pictures (lets hope less of the latter!) but purpose has to be defined and clear in our minds.

“Purpose” then set the tone to the whole day and we kept returning to it again and again and the day turned out to be one of the most wonderful workshops I have ever attended.  The group were one of the most engaging, sharing and supportive groups I have ever met ….. they already naturally had social media skills and it seemed that purpose was all they needed. Towards the end of the day they all signed up to twitter – and you will find their tweets if you search #BAMEconnect.  They are definitely a group to watch – inspiring, friendly and purposeful.

 Screenshot 2015-03-09 20.23.08

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My heads underwater

Last year I really wanted to take part in the School for Health Care Radicals however I was just too busy to commit, however this year when the opportunity presented itself again I was determined to take part.  I have to admit to being a bit behind as my diary has not allowed me to take part in two of the live webinars, but the wonderful thing is that they are all recorded and shared and I can catch up! (Well done #SHCR :D)

Anyway, this week, (which was actually last weeks session … I said I was behind!) I felt a bit discombobulated during the webinar because I started to feel like I was looking at things from a very different perspective from most of my classmates.  For quite a while now I have felt like I have been on the outside of organisations, struggling to know what they know and struggling to make contact with the inside however recently what I have realised is that many people inside organisations are struggling to make contact with outside and to know what we outside know.  Helen Bevan describes this well when she says there should be no us and them but us and us … and I have to agree! But this was not the reason for my discombobulation, this was all due to this little diagram:

oscar berg

I have seen this diagram before (see The Collaboration Pyramid Revisited) and it unsettled me and I am afraid to say that it still unsettles me … why your ask? Well the reason is because it’s designed from the perspective of someone from inside an organisation struggling to make contact and know what we outside already know ….. which is not my perspective at all !!! From my perspective this diagram is upside down … so lets just turn it’s on its head:

photoNow that feels so much better (I can feel recombobulation happening as I type!) The only problem with this is that from my perspective I am underwater.  I have to admit this is what it sometimes feel like – being on the outside struggling to make contact with the inside and to know what they know ….. but here’s where I had an epiphany …. In the world where its us and us, working together some of us need to be underwater, some of us need to be a bit stealth like, some of us need to be working from this perspective.  I had the sudden realisation that the upside down underwater perspective that I am coming from is ok ! In the words John Legend “My heads underwater, but I’m breathing fine”  and its all down to us and us.

Of course this picture is just my perspective – from your perspective it could very well be different again.

So here’s to seeing things from a different perspective, turning things upside down, sideways, slantways or anyway because in the world of us and us we need all perspectives.

The new code and a large sigh

I have to say that I audibly breathed a huge sigh of relief this week when I read the Revised NMC Code of Conduct for Nurses & Midwives and saw that in it a common sense approach had been applied to social media.  Of course we can all remember back in the summer, during the draft revised code consultation period being faced with Point 114 which stated:

 “You must ensure that you use social networking sites and other forms of electronic communication responsibly and in line with our guidance, in particular by not referring to employers, colleagues or past or current people you have cared for”

I remember being quite astounded at reading this, my worries being that many nurses are starting use social media as part of their work and this stipulation would not allow for the further exploration of social media within nursing.  At the time WeNurses held a Twitter discussion about the draft code, which the NMC took part in,  some of the comments regarding Point 114 are outlined below:

Screenshot 2015-01-30 12.20.34 Screenshot 2015-01-30 12.20.48 Screenshot 2015-01-30 12.21.09 Screenshot 2015-01-30 12.21.24 Screenshot 2015-01-30 12.21.37 Screenshot 2015-01-30 12.21.51 Screenshot 2015-01-30 12.22.02I, like many others, also completed the NMCs online consultation form and expressed my views beyond 140 characters.  I was concerned that Point 114 was very badly worded.  I was so relieved to see that The NMC engaged and listened to registrants and clearly took action – the mention of social media in the new code is, in my humble opinion, spot on !

Screenshot 2015-01-30 12.28.49

Social media is merely communication at the end of the day and we need to treat it as such and its important we are aware that our actions using any form of communication must remain professional at all times.  I like this approach and I am glad that the NMC have chosen this wording.  If social media is to become recognised for the mainstream communication it is then we need to stop singling it out – well done NMC.

Of course, we still have a few hurdles to jump through – I for one will be looking out for the new NMC Social Media Guidance that the Revised Code refers to and Revalidation details …. I hope that both of these things will reflect the same common sense approach to using social media in nursing.


We don’t do that anymore…

It’s that time of year when we all head out to visit our nearest and dearest and my family is certainly big on Christmas visiting.  It is not that we don’t see each other all year round, we do, but at Christmas we spend a little more time together.  So this week we headed out with the little one and the two teenagers to visit my Husbands elderly Aunt and Uncle.  We always love going as they are lots of fun and we get some really lovely Danish food (as my Husbands Uncle originally hails from Denmark) Of course they know that I am a nurse (I am sure that many of you will relate to this) so when we visit I often get to hear about their latest medical escapades and this visit was no exception.

Now whilst usually quite complimentary about nurses my Husbands Uncle on this occasion proceeded to tell me about how awful the nurses were on his latest hospital admission.  He explained about how the nurses had refused to “lift” him. This made me smile a little, as I have known my Husbands Uncle for some 17 years now and I know that sometimes he really does need a little encouragement to do things and I also know that he is mobile and this is something he would not want to loose.  Therefore in my mind I had already seen what I thought would be the nurses reasoning for not lifting him, as a gentleman nearing the far side of 70 maintaining and promoting independence has to be key, however as its always nice to hear his stories so I asked him what the nurses reasoning was.  My Husbands Uncle stated that the nurses told him that they weren’t allowed to lift people anymore because of health and safety.  Ok, so I can hear you all saying that this is perfectly true, lifting is a strict “no no” for nurses these days, long gone are the days when we hefted patients about using Australian and through arm lifts.

australian lift

But what is wrong with saying this to a patient? Well …. My husbands Uncle then launched into a tirade about what a load of nonsense this was and what good was a nurse who couldn’t help people to move about! This got me thinking and reflecting, I have at times explained to patients that I have been unable to lift them as we just cant do that anymore …. However is that what I meant? How relevant was that to the people I have cared for?

So what should the nurses have said to my Husbands Uncle? Well perhaps if they had explained to him that it was best if he tried to mobilise himself and maybe reassuring him that they could stay with him and give him some tips.  Maybe they could have helped him with the best positioning to get him up and mobile.  Maybe they could have reassured him that its ok, it will take some time but keep going.  Maybe then my Husbands Uncle wouldn’t have felt the nurses were “awful” (I might add that at the time he said this my Husbands Aunt was stood behind him shaking her head and later told me that they were lovely and just trying to get him moving again!)

It’s hard a times to say the right thing, but the more I think about it the more that “we don’t do that anymore” sounds a little too much like “the dog ate my homework” We need to communicate with the people we care for and explain our reasoning, we need to work with them and be solution focussed. Looking forward to 2015 I want to be the type of nurse that says “Perhaps if we try this ….. “ or “How can we help you to do this ….” Positive language rather than negative excuses is surely the better way to nurse.

As for my husbands Uncle … well he quickly moved on to enthral us with a story about how he and his brother went sailing with their Uncle off the coast of Copenhagen and ended up in very muddy waters!!!!

Being Human

Ok, so I admit it … I haven’t blogged on here in ages!! In fact the last time I blogged was at the start of the summer. The summer holidays are always problematic for me with 3 children it’s hard to juggle work time and family time as I am sure all you busy parents out there will agree.  I have to admit that I have been feeling rather bad about not putting any time into this blog over the summer and that somehow I had failed and then I listened to Ruby Wax talking about What Makes Us Human on BBC Radios 2’s Jeremy Vine Show.

Ruby spoke about how we have become “Extensions of our digital hardware” and that “If we go off line for even a split nano second we think the whole world will grind to a halt” At the beginning of the podcast I was really quite irate because as a staunch supporter of all things digital I felt that she was criticising everything I believed in … however after the initial shock of listening to someone berate digital had subsided I started to think that actually Ruby has a point!

I was reminded of a poem I read so long ago that I forget how and why I first came across it -


I came to a conclusion – sometimes we need to take time to be human, sometimes we either need to or have to switch off our digital selves .. and that’s OK.  Over the summer I haven’t blogged on here at all .. but do you know what ?? The world has kept turning regardless.  It’s fine to pick up and drop social media and our digital spaces as our life demands – digital spaces can offer us so much but not at the cost of having time to just stand and stare.

I had a lovely summer and I took lots of time out to just be human with my beautiful children, we flew kites, we went roller skating, we played games, we laughed, we danced and we baked! So although I admit to neglecting this blog over the summer I no longer feel bad about it :D