The Health And Care Professions Council has published guidance notes for social workers and other members of its profession, on how to use social media whilst engaging in their professional duties.

The notes come after Researching Reform called on the President of the Family Division to issue guidelines for family professionals in May of this year.

The publication has been put together amid growing concerns that family specialists are routinely blurring the lines between professional and personal interactions with service users.

At a modest 8 pages, there really isn’t a huge amount on offer guidance wise. Community Care’s article on the document offers a good summary of its contents. 

The Guidance offers some tips for social workers using sites like Facebook and Twitter:

  • Think before you post
  • Think about who can see what you share
  • Maintain appropriate professional boundaries
  • Do not post information which could identify a service user unless you have their permission
  • Do not post inappropriate or offensive material
  • If you are employed, follow your employer’s social media policy
  • When in doubt, get advice
  • Keep on posting.

To bolster the guidance, the Council has also published case studies to highlight positive and negative uses of social media.

It’s a good start, but this Guidance really does need to be followed up by something altogether more robust. In particular, it needs to outline what is appropriate behaviour, and what is not, and set down best practice for how and when to reach out to service users.