Social Media

NMC 2017

The Nursing and Midwifery Council uses social networking sites to engage with nurses and midwives, students and the public, and they have been leading the UK’s health and social care regulators in developing our online communications activity. They are active on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and they have thousands of subscribers to their regular email newsletters. At the same time, they are seeing an increasing number of cases before the fitness to practise panels which involve the use of social networking sites and other online activity. Even as a student it is important that you conduct yourself professionally at all times and in all places, real and virtual, in order to justify the trust the public places in our professions.

Used properly, social networking sites such as Facebook are a great way to find old friends, join interest groups and share information. However, nurses and midwives should remember that anything posted on a social networking site is in the public domain and could be read by patients or even future employers. Be careful what you post and who you post it to. What may be considered to be letting off steam about a situation at work can potentially be read by someone who may take offence at the content of a posting. Nurses and midwives could be putting their registration at risk if posting inappropriate comments about colleagues or patients or posting any material that could be considered explicit. The NMC believe there is a clear relationship between conduct in the real world and conduct online.

The NMC (2015)

In referring to the Code (2015) in the NMC social networking advice, the NMC set out a clear expectation that both online and offline conduct should be at a similar high standard.
The NMC; nor the School of Health & Society at the University of Salford do not advocate blanket bans on nurses, midwives or students joining or using social networking sites. Both support the responsible use of social networking sites by nurses, midwives and students through their advice and guidance. As a School we encourage you to use social networking responsibly and remind you of your responsibilities to the NMC, and hence direct you to the NMC advice and other relevant standards and guidance.

NMC (2015)

The NMC has published guidance on using social media and students are encouraged to explore this information. This guidance should be read together with The Code: Professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives (The Code) (NMC, 2015).  Nurses and midwives should refer to this guidance along with any guidance issued by their employer on social media. This guidance is not intended to cover every social media situation that you may face, however it sets out broad principles to enable you to think through issues and act professionally, ensuring public protection at all times. As the nature and scope of social media is constantly evolving, guidance is reviewed and updated as necessary and the principles of the Code are re-applied to new and evolving situations. Given the large proportion of the population using social networking sites, healthcare providers and universities can derive benefits through engaging with social media, both at a corporate and individual level. Having a corporate presence on social networking sites can also lend credibility when engaging students, nurses and midwives around these issues, and can provide a platform for encouraging responsible use.

It is difficult to understand why some student nurses and midwives choose to engage inappropriately with social media. Despite the pitfalls of social media being carefully explained to them in the early stages of their professional lives some individuals potentially jeopardise their futures in the profession they aspire to join through their ill-chosen and unacceptable contributions to social media. Stay safe when using social media by following the “top tips” in the chapter entitled “Professional values and decision making” by Ruth Chadwick in Nursing: Decision-Making Skills for Practice (2013) edited by Karen Holland and Deborah Roberts, Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-964142-0

NMC 2015

Social networking sites should not be used for raising and escalating concerns (commonly referred to as whistleblowing). The NMC has guidance about Raising Concerns (NMC 2015) which sets out your professional duty to report any concerns which put the safety of people in your care or the public at risk, and the steps you should take to do this.

Seek out Nursing Students at the University of Salford on Twitter @nursingSUni or WeNurses @WeNurses for examples of how social media can be used in a positive manner to share knowledge and stimulate ideas with the objective of sharing the best evidence based practice for the enhancement of client care.

Think before you post via any social media; T – is it true? H – is it helpful? I – is it inspiring? N – Is it necessary? K – Is it kind? Answering these questions should increase your confidence that what you intend to post will be valuable to others.
But there is one final variable when thinking about social media which is just as important: YOU. If you would not read it, if you would not comment or share or click, do not post it. Real people get hurt in the real and virtual world. Use your words to inspire and not to destroy. Treat your online conversations as if you were talking with people in a public space where you can be seen and overheard.

This week the UK Government has launched an Internet Safety Strategy green paper;  please consider responding online or email with your thoughts about the proposed strategy and help to ensure that the safest place in the world to be online is Britain.

All NMC related images are used with the permission of the Nursing & Midwifery Council.



The NMC (2015)

The Code reminds us that we must always practise in line with the best available evidence.  Nursing research provides evidence that helps nurses advocate for clients and ensure that the nursing care they receive is well informed and based on the best available evidence.  Nurses engage in research in various ways as part of their day to day practice but some may be employed in specific roles such as clinical nurse researchers or nurse researchers.

Clinical nurse researchers are found in clinical practice and frequently have advanced and specialist clinical skills. Clinical nurse researchers are directly involved in research projects related to patient care and treatments; co-ordinating and managing clinical trials; ensuring that patient safety , research governance requirements and study protocols and procedures are adhered to during a project . 

Nurse researchers are largely concerned with the acquisition and development of new nursing knowledge for the advancement of the discipline.  Nurse researchers are mainly found in university settings and are skilled in research methodologies. However, nurse researchers also frequently practice clinically and explore clinical nursing research questions as well as academic questions.

It has been recognised that there is a need to develop and support individuals who undertake heath research and promote health research as a career opportunity. The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) is the UK’s major funder of applied health research.  One of the programmes it supports, in conjunction with Health Education England (HEE) is the Integrated Clinical Academic Programme for non-medical healthcare professions.

NIHR training programmes provide opportunities for all professionals to improve the health of patients in their care through research. The National Health Service (NHS) is committed to finding new and better ways of working with patients and the public to improve healthcare services. I am currently a co-research group participant in a study which is being led by a General Practitioner (GP) with an interest in how to support and develop Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) as part of a National Institute for Health Research doctoral research fellowship.  PPGs in GP surgeries are seen as a way of improving general practice services and the aim of the study is to design and test a clear role for PPGs in improving GP services. This is an example of practice based research which is seeking to improve the experience of clients in the delivery of health care services.

Here at the University of Salford the Salford Institute for Dementia was created to conduct vital research into living well with dementia. The Institute is involved in designing dementia-friendly buildings, gardens, urban spaces and transport networks so individuals living with dementia and their carers can live with purpose and meaning. The Institute shares knowledge, educates professionals and members of the public and conducts research.

Used with the permission of the Salford Institute for Dementia.

The Institute has five research themes one of which is care and support. Take a look at some of the latest publications from the Institute in relation to this theme. A new hub space has been created on the Allerton Campus of the University of Salford for the Institute team to connect with partner organisations. The hub will also be the new venue for the Salford Institute for Dementia monthly dementia café, SIDS café, and our new Good Life club for people living with dementia in the local area.

On a major national and international scale UK Biobank aims to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of serious and life-threatening illnesses.

Between 2006 – 2010 500,000 people aged between 40-69 years; including me, were recruited from across the country to take part in the UK Biobank health resource project. We have undergone measures, provided blood, urine and saliva samples for future analysis and detailed information about ourselves and agreed to have our health followed. In time this information will become a powerful resource to help scientists discover why some people develop particular diseases and others do not.

Used with the permission of UK Biobank

In addition to information collected during the baseline assessment, 100,000 UK Biobank participants; including me, have worn a 24-hour activity monitor for a week, (that was interesting) and 20,000 have undertaken repeat measures. We have completed online questionnaires about our diet, cognitive function, work history and digestive health.

100,000 UK Biobank participants; including me, have allowed UK Biobank to scan our brains, heart, abdomen, bones and carotid arteries. Computerised Axial Tomography (CAT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for the greater good rather personal diagnosis was challenging but participants are fully aware of the important legacy of information which they are providing for bona fide researchers anywhere in the world who are undertaking health research in the public good.  The researchers are obliged to return their findings to UK Biobank when their work is complete, so that other scientists can benefit. UK Biobank is linking to a wide range of electronic health records and is developing algorithms to accurately identify diseases and their sub-sets. Our hormone and cholesterol levels have been analysed and our Genotypes identified all in the interests of health research. We will be followed by UK Biobank for many years as they continue to develop this research resource. You may be interested to read UK Biobank’s latest news or read some of the research which has already been published.

UK Biobank holds its Annual Meeting at Manchester Town Hall on Thursday 29 June 2017 reviewing the progress which has been made in the last year and particularly focusing on the role of genetics, UK Biobank data as a powerful resource to enable global health research, the benefits and challenges of following health over many years and sharing some of the research opportunities following the imaging of 100,000 participants.

Research is an important facet of healthcare, and whether you are a researcher or a research subject, or both, you will be making a difference to our collective understanding of the needs of individuals. So; if like me, you are ever asked to participate in a research project or trial please consider the request seriously.


Here in Manchester  this week as we reflect on the terrorist attack at the Arena and the aftermath inevitably the question being asked is why? Staff and students are urged to support everyone who is affected in any way by this tragic event. Many of our students are on placements in hospitals that are caring for those affected by the attack. AskUS is a first point of contact for students or staff if you would like to talk about what has happened.

There have been many reports commenting on the dedication, commitment and professionalism of health care professionals in the city such as this one from the Manchester Evening News on 25 May 2017

The NHS heroes who came to Manchester’s aid in the city’s darkest hour

Such an atrocity leads to individuals, families and communities needing to deal with the consequences of trauma and acute stress. You may find it helpful to listen to a Beyond Belief broadcast from 12 September 2016 which reflected upon terrorist atrocities in France, Belgium and Germany and sought to examine the reaction of individuals to trauma.

The University of Salford is a multicultural, multi ethnic and multi faith community which is committed to supporting all its students and staff.  The campus has a Faith Centre with extensive facilities which offers a safe space for everyone; whether they express a faith or not, to question ideas and experiences and build positive relationships between all members of the university community, or somewhere just to relax and contemplate your own questions in a pleasant environment in peace and quiet away from the bustle of university life. 

Whatever your beliefs the Christian, Jewish and Muslim Chaplains would be delighted to talk with you; in confidence, about anything you like. As Einstein said “the important thing is not to stop questioning”. He also commented “any fool can know, the point is to understand”.

At this time of year there are many individuals preparing to answer questions and so demonstrate their understanding; either in examinations or assignments.  Some may feel they have prepared well; others may fear they have not done enough or perhaps even some have done too much.  All probably wish to give a good answer to the questions they are asked. Voltaire reputedly said “judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers”; something for students to ponder perhaps when they are wondering whether their answers really respond to the questions of their assessors. Some individuals may feel a greater empathy with another of Voltaire’s sayings “the more I read, the more acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing”.

Many students will be looking forward to the end of the programmes of study and for what their future career will bring.  Some will have already made that first application for their first job as a registered practitioner and some are feeling the increasing need to take that step.  Undoubtedly as part of that process will be the interview.  It is important to remember that interview should be two-way processes; the interviewer will certainly have many questions that they wish to ask the interviewee but the most productive interviews are where the interviewee reciprocates the questioning process.  Both parties have a vested interest to get to know each other as individuals and to really listen to the answers to their questions. This is not dissimilar to how practitioners should engage with their clients in order to ensure that the client’s needs are fully understood and responded to in a meaningful manner.  Assessment if we are not careful can appear like an inquisition from the patient’s perspective.  It takes real skill to gently probe a client’s history in a manner which makes them feel supported and encouraged to participate in their care. It is also important that pertinent information is shared appropriately across professional groups to avoid the criticism from clients that they are repeatedly asked the same questions by different groups of staff.

We should be encouraging our clients to ask questions about their treatment and their care.  It is our responsibility to work in partnership with our clients and to empower them to make decisions about their care.  In doing so we must facilitate their knowledge and understanding of their own health and wellbeing and actively support them to ask questions about their care and treatment and how to access relevant health and social care information.

The amount of information that is available to us today through various multimedia can be stimulating and thought-provoking but can also be overwhelming.  How do we effectively discriminate the helpful places to seek out information whether we are clients, practitioners or students? NHS choices is a useful place for individuals to start to look for answers to their questions about their healthcare.

Reflecting on our practise allows us an opportunity to question our own engagement and approach to our professional activities.  It is important to reflect upon our own individual progress; to ask ourselves what we can do now that we could not do a year ago? And what will we be able to do this time next year?  Is it more important to have done or to have said more?  Ask yourself what is the single most important thing you have learnt in the last year?  What makes you do better?  The shortest questions are frequently the most challenging; there is simply nowhere to hide when faced with challenging, direct questions.