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Nurse-led social media drive boosts communication with young people

The power of social media has been recognised during a week of presentations at a London trust.

A nurse-led social media initiative has helped boost communication with children and young people.

Lawson and Wickens
North East London Foundation Trust nurses Cathrine Lawson (left) and Debbie Wickens

North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) last week began a social media initiative to increase interaction with members of the public and partnership agencies.

Barking and Dagenham 0-19 Universal Services are part of the initiative. Previously, they had relied on printed pamphlets to advise service users on, for example, mental health and support for new parents.

Now, they use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to direct children and young people to relevant information online. As a result, they have reduced the number of pamphlets they give out.

‘It was costing £26,000 annually to get these printed leaflets,’ said team leader and nurse Cathrine Lawson, who believes many of the pamphlets went unread.

Relationships

Social media use has also strengthened the relationship between schools and school nurses.

‘Sometimes nurses would arrive at a school but there would be no rooms available to see the children in,’ said Ms Lawson.

‘Working closer together has enabled us to improve relationships. We promote things they are doing and work with each other better.’

Ms Lawson added that social media has enabled health professionals to get in touch with young people more easily. For example, one teenager would not answer the phone while with friends, but would answer a direct message through social media.

NELFT has also developed an online portal, with and for young people, who need support for mental health problems.

Called My Mind, the portal provides access to exercises, apps and ideas to help tackle concerns with bullying, exams, stress and depression.

Other sessions during the NELFT’s second annual social media week concerned its use during major incidents, and using twitter to tell stories and build professional networks.


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