What’s So Funny About, Peace, Love and Social Media?

Dean Royles asked me to write about Social Media for #NHSEngage earlier this week. I had already posted a blog about my twitter use on Digital Mental Health curator Victoria Betton’s site here. In it I suggested that Twitter was a gift to every leader and had blurred the traditional boundaries of leadership flattening hierarchies and increasing accessibility. It provided a wealth of resources that could be accessed, digested and shared. The blog seemed to go down pretty well and I had much feedback.

There is a great Elvis Costello cover of an old Nick Lowe song that you may have heard from 1978.

“As I walk through, This wicked world
Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity.

I ask myself, Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time i feel like this inside,
There’s one thing i wanna know:
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?”

This came to mind when I was asked to write about social media. The song is a plea to think differently and imagine a different world, one where many people aspire to live. This seems to me to be relevant for how social media has been and should be viewed in the 21st Century for the NHS. A world of effective digital consultations; on-line peer support; sharing of expertise and knowledge…..all of these are happening somewhere now. 

An insight that I picked up at a recent Trust Development Authority session for Chairs and Chief Executives is relevant here. If you want to change someone’s behaviour, you first have to change their mind. Colin Price of McKinsey suggested this needs four things to be in place…COlinPrice

  1.  A compelling story
  2. Processes and structures that reinforce
  3. Skills required for change
  4. Role modelling

So, if we want to embrace social media, we need to look at changing mindsets to change behaviour. This model helps me frame what I think.

I also learned that the impact of role modelling is as strong as the other three put together.

There are many people who role model Social Media use and a compelling narrative is emerging through #NHSengage. Colleagues and peers have published erudite, thoughtful and impressive pieces on the use of Social Media. I found myself nodding along to everything Dr Mark Newbold said; saying “I do that” whilst reading Lisa Rodrigues’ piece; and reflecting on how far things have progressed when reading Dean’s piece on driving a permissive culture on social media.

We are much less well prepared with reinforcement mechanisms and skills. Plans are patchy. Mechanisms can restrict instead of free up practice. My own trust is wrestling with this at the moment. Trying to forge ahead, learn from others and not make too many mistakes. But it is tough. And perhaps one of the most powerful pieces on how much more is needed was that written in October 2012 about social media and health and wellbeing from Claire Jones  – this is a must read for people wanting to understand how social media can improve access and the steps that need to be taken if this is to be the case. For example:

“People with disabilities and long term conditions are already using digital and social media to support them and to help them maintain or improve their health (Malby and Mervyn, 2012). They are doing this independently and “under-the radar” of services, because services are not set up to accommodate or encourage this. The irony is that internet use is seen on care planning documentation throughout Leeds to be considered a luxury item, not an essential for planning care and accessing our community; this has to change for the planned changes to be possible.”


“We consider that building capacity within this population to use digital technology could be considered a priority area. Access to information and skills training sessions, through libraries, community groups, mobile libraries, and access to useful directories of apps and software, and information about how to access funding for computers and online access are identified as important ways to support the population of Leeds to utilise digital and social media solutions.”

My belief is that you could replace the phrases relating to people with staff and they would also hold true. Developments like professional chats – #nurchat #ottalk #ldnurchat #wenurses – arose because staff decided with support from Social Media innovators like @wenurses that a place to talk and share was helpful. Professional #tweetmeets are starting to occur. Training is springing up through everyone from Leeds and York Partnerships FT to Inkwell Arts. 

What could we do with a decent investment and focus in building systems, processes and skills for staff and patients? We have the role models and narrative. Let’s create the rest of the requirements to improve at scale and pace. In a 21st Century NHS this is essential …..and ask yourself “What’s so funny ’bout peace, love and social media”

Note – all content in this Blog came from my experience or directly from Social Media sources. No paper or phones were harmed in the making of this blog.

12 thoughts on “What’s So Funny About, Peace, Love and Social Media?

  1. Thank you for the lovely mention. You’re right: the processes involved in becoming digital professionals and the processes in using technology to enable asset-based community development are actually very similar. This was the topic of my table conversation at the #cihmdigiage think-in last week. I’m happy to share the learning further, especially in Leeds!

  2. Hey, Rob, not just cos you honour me with a namecheck, I seriously loved this. So many ideas and reasons for social media put so succinctly and brilliantly. Rock and roll x

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