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Social media…it’s abit like Marmite!

This month’s blog post is kindly provided by a member of BAOT. Shelagh Creegan is Associate AHP Director for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities in Tayside, Scotland.

Zoe Parker – COT’s Education Manager, first ‘met’ Shelagh online when Shelagh contributed to our monthly tweetchat #COTCPDclub which we host at noon on the first Thursday of every month. When Zoe heard how active Shelagh is on social media she asked her to provide a guest post telling some of her story. As an exemplary communicative OT and collegial social media aficionado Shelagh has kindly obliged…
Social media…It’s a bit like Marmite…

You either love it or hate it!

I was in the latter camp that’s for sure. I didn’t want to know. I was very happy with traditional forms of communication, thank you very much. You know, face to face … speaking on a landline telephone … email. That was more than good enough for me. But following the leadership of others, people I have never met, my methods of communication are changing.

Let me explain. At a national meeting of mental health AHP strategic leads, we were challenged to go away and experiment with this scary form of communication. Social media … this is going to be a complete waste of time, I thought. I am such a technophobe. I just wont get the hang of it. Excuses. Lots of excuses. But I bowed to peer pressure and decided to give it a go.

For eleven months, I would go on Twitter and “lurk” (observe) to see what all the fuss was about. I decided to follow, in a professional capacity, a wide range of healthcare professionals and students, NHS managers and commissioners, patient leaders, carers, voluntary sector organisations, anybody linked to mental health (my clinical and professional interest) and a range of professional bodies.

I was amazed that many of them followed me back. Suddenly I was gaining access to a rich and diverse community of people that I could never have hoped to reach using traditional communication methods.

But still I didn’t get it. Until one Friday evening in November. Scotland were playing the USA at football at Hampden Park, Glasgow. The match was on the telly. I love football but I was bored out of my skull. It was a terribly dull match.

I went on Twitter and stumbled across @bartontd, a nurse educator and leader, tweeting the most awful jokes in a self-styled comedy hour every Friday night. The jokes were so bad they made me laugh. Feeling brave and intrigued, I began tweeting @bartontd and before I knew it, Twitter had me hooked!

I noticed my friend was also an active participant in professional nurse chats hosted by @wenurses every Thursday night. I discovered other professional chats for occupational therapy (@OTalk), physiotherapy (@physiotalk) and mental health nurses (@WeMHNurses) to name but a few. Free continuing professional development! There is so much choice!

I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone and join in the nursing chats. With encouragement from @bartontd I soon found myself offering to guest host a chat on the topic of “Integration”. I have to admit I was absolutely terrified. Yet, I loved the whole experience of leading a professional conversation. What a buzz! You can access my review of the chat along with a reflective blog about my guest host experience @WeNurses if you like.

I have since engaged in conversation with the professional chat hosts. This has resulted in us coming together to produce a calendar of multidisciplinary professional chats including World Suicide Prevention Day.

It gets better! I received an email from the Communications Department in Scottish Government. Another nurse leader, @dtbarron, had read my blogs following the Integration chat and given my name as someone to be contacted and invited to blog at the NHSScotland conference in June. A fantastic opportunity that I gratefully accepted.

Not content with that, @dtbarron has persuaded me to launch “Taysidehealth”. This blog will follow the “Ayrshirehealth” model developed and tested by @dtbarron and which has already been successfully rolled out to Dumfries and Galloway called “Dghealth”. The blog will loosely focus around the topic of healthcare with no specific theme or corporate vision to be followed. Its aim is to share knowledge and opinion, to challenge readers and to communicate differently.

Do you know, Ayrshirehealth has 41,000 reads and has achieved 1,014 reads in one day? Dghealth has 36,000 reads and has hit 860 reads in one day. Both can boast an international readership spanning over 115 countries. Both blogs are referred to as a source of opinion. Both receive article submissions from patients, carers and patient organisations. The blogs also attract national colleagues who bring a guest perspective to the readers thoughts and challenges. Pretty impressive dont you think?

And what about occupational therapists? What leadership can we evidence in the social media stakes? I can highly recommend @elaineahpmh from Alzheimer Scotland and its blog, Letstalkaboutdementia.wordpress.com, a weekly blog which raises awareness of the contribution of AHPs in dementia care. And ahpscot.wordpress.com, the official blog for Allied Health Professions in Scotland is definitely worth a read!

My proudest moment on Twitter to date? Watching an OT lecturer from Robert Gordon University, @RGUOTStewart, and two occupational therapy students who undertook a role emerging placement split between NHS Tayside and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, @natalielc93 and @or_eithne, guest host a professional chat on @OTalk called “Occupational Therapy and the Fire Service”.

And finally, my most intriguing connection made through the power of SoMe? Being invited to meet with lecturers from the local University’s Department of Nursing to explore joint working to improve the education of mental health nursing students.

So that’s my experience of social media to date.

Pretty amazing don’t you think?

Over to my two mentors to have the last word.

As @dtbarron says, “I want to challenge the status quo amongst my professional colleagues that we don’t really do social media.”

And as @bartontd often tweets “Twitter … it’s a great big Global conversation … it’s happening now – with or without you – it can be professional – it is the #FUTURE #TALK”

Shelagh Creegan (@shelaghahp)



  1. Pingback: Who to follow: #AHPs on twitter | physiotalk - October 1, 2014

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