As Service Coordinators, with the day to day demands of our jobs, we can find our world shrinking until our horizon is limited to ‘our’ centre, ‘our’ community or ‘our’ organisation. However, out there in the big wide world, there are other service providers, other people who are coming up with innovative ways to deliver care and support to the frail aged and people with a disability. There are discoveries being unveiled on a regular basis around diets or activities which have been found helpful in staving off a number of age related illnesses, breakthroughs in medical research on dementia and the launch of new assistive technology that can make living at home easier on people.
How do you get to know about this, though? Hail the Social Media platforms.
Social Media used to be limited to friends and families sharing pretty pictures of cups of coffee or holiday snaps, and it’s still great for that. Did you know that it can be useful in the workplace as well? These days I spend more time on Social Media for business purposes than I do for linking up with friends and family. It is where I can get the latest news about what is happening in the industry across the world. While most people see these platforms as a way to get their stories out there, I see and use Social Media as a tool for gathering information.
Let’s look at some of the useful Social Media platforms that we use and which may be of use to you.
Facebook is possibly the one platform most people would be familiar with. Facebook started as a way to share information between students at University, now it seems that everyone over the age of 13 has a Facebook account. In addition to personal accounts, Facebook allows people and organisations to set up a Facebook page. This page can then be used by the owner to share relevant information about their business, the industry or anything they feel may be of interest to the followers of their page. Here at CDCS we have a Facebook page where we alert people to new items of interest to the industry such as the release of funding rounds or our latest blog article. I also ‘like’ other industry related Facebook Pages as these then may show up on my Facebook ‘feed’. Just remember the more you ‘like’, share or comment on articles from these pages the more likely you will be to see more posts from that page appear on your feed.
Then you have LinkedIn, often described as the “professional” Facebook. This platform is great for developing your own online resume and works on the principle of ‘six degrees of separation’ the idea is that using the links between each of us we may be able to connect with those people who are able to assist us in our professional lives. LinkedIn is also great for networking with other professionals in your industry as you can be invited or can ask to join LinkedIn groups. Organisations and businesses can set up their own LinkedIn page as well. It is here that you will find people discussing issues or posting comments and blogs related to their industry. Note that this is not a place to post photos of your children or pets. Think of it as attending a work related conference where you might hand out your business card. Likewise, when you are connecting to others on LinkedIn, it is best to limit your connections to those people who are relevant to your work life rather than to your social life.
Twitter, my favourite social media platform for gathering industry intel. Now that was a surprise to me. At first, I was a little wary of Twitter, it appeared to be a medium that people used to follow their favourite socialite. After encouragement from a Social Media expert however I took the plunge and created a Twitter account, @cdcs_australia. I use it more to find out information than for ‘tweeting’. By following a number of aged and disability related organisations around the world I have found myself keeping abreast of new ideas and technology as well as breaking news on local issues. The idea is to keep information in a tweet down to 140 characters, this means people need to get good at distilling an idea or information down to basics. When you read something that appears interesting it may link to an article or blog where you can read further.
Pinterest is another Social Media tool that I use regularly. I love the creative side of pulling together interesting articles or pictures and ‘pinning’ them to our boards. At CDCS we have curated boards that show off some of the amazing places we visit along with others that focus on aged and disability support such as ideas for independent living, dementia care and active ageing. As a coordinator you could set up your own Pinterest board and ‘pin’ ideas that you find while searching the internet for future reference.
There are other platforms that you can also use for gathering information such as YouTube, Instagram or even the relatively new platform – Periscope. It is really about what suits you. As long as you have internet access in some form you can access one or more of these to keep up to date with the latest information out there.
Go expand your horizons!