Tell the story

June 28, 2010

Here’s a synopsis I cobbled together to explain about the engagement site I’m developing for local government

Filed under: Featured — andrewchilvers @ 12:55 pm

The local govt stakeholder engagement network is a secure video-based communications hub accessible to all staff, providers and users of services.

The programme opens a direct video dialogue between:
• directors
• frontline staff
• providers
• service users

It abolishes silos between departments, teams, services and communities.

It works across:
• social care
• health
• mental health services
• LD services
• Older People services

Each online community has its own channel and content manager and at the click of a mouse you can see what is happening internally and externally through video diaries and comment, internally and on location at outside events.

The emphasis is on recording human experience to produce better outcomes for people. The communications hub will help you:
• understand how the changes underpinning the individual budgets programmes affects all stakeholders
• to engage with isolated and vulnerable people in the community
• to engage and connect with a large multicultural community
• to hear from all stakeholders about the issues that affect their lives.

An editorial board meets to talk about content going onto the site each month. Each Thursday an email goes out to all registered users to give them highlights of the latest uploaded content. So it’s a managed, proactive network.

You can analyse all data on the site to see the most popular videos, most visited area of the site, most commented on videos and even add a monthly poll to ask people targeted questions. You can then analyse this data.

Importantly, the communications hub will also save you money. We sit down to find out what is spent on internal media, workshops, events, transport and communication costs, particularly around personalisation. We can then show you how we can cut costs by X% a year AND we can hook you up to a network that will involve all stakeholders. The idea is to get more out of less.

Below is an interview I did with Terry Dafter, director of adult services for Stockport, where he talks about how people inside and outside the council have to engage if services are to improve


At Out of the Box I glimpsed a future that will work

Filed under: Featured — andrewchilvers @ 11:59 am

“I’ve seen the future and it works,” wrote American journalist Lincoln Steffens in a spurt of evangelical zeal after visiting the infant Soviet Russia in 1919. Poor deluded Lincoln, we all know how that turned out don’t we?

Nevertheless, a few days ago at an event no less evangelical in its attempts to change how people live, I glimpsed a future that WILL work.

The event was “Out of the Box”, a gift economy day put together by Patient Opinion at Birmingham’s Deaf Cultural Centre. The grandiose aim is to bring the benefits of social media and social networking to a wider audience comprising managers and workers from the NHS, social services and charities.

At its heart was the idea to make the world a better place for the disadvantaged and vulnerable people who live among us. Always a worthwhile endeavour.

Through speeches, workshops, wonderfully impromptu soapbox exhortations and chaotic speed dating sessions, the idea was to show people in public service how lives can be transformed through social networking, interactive engagement and video blogging.

A cynic would say there was much well meaning puff, but in the face of swingeing cuts in the public sector, directors of adult health and social care will be more focussed on retrenchment rather than driving change and building new engagement processes.

Well they’d be wrong.

The day highlighted that change in the way we communicate is not only desirable but necessary and long overdue. We have the tools for change, we now have to ensure that people use them for the good of all.

More importantly, using new ways to communicate can save everyone money and time. It should never replace face-to-face communications, but instead act as a natural corollary. It will make us better communicators – and make us feel better.

I found it incredibly enervating to see so many public sector professionals eagerly looking to see how these changes can and should happen.

So what were the main points to come out of the day:
• New ways to tell your story. Social media can bring human experience to a vast audience. People can tell their stories through video blogs. Vulnerable people need a voice, people going through reablement programmes, getting over serious illness need to tell their stories, about their services and the people who work with them. They need to feel engaged with their doctors, carers, social workers, families. Social media can do this. It will then help directors down to social workers, care assistants and GPs improve those services.
• The message. It’s the people behind the message that are now driving the so called Big Society through social networks. If local government and NHS directors and managers took a lead on this, politicians would have to follow.
• Mitigate risk. Risk is inevitable when faced with any kind of open communication. But it’s important to manage the risk from the outset rather than let the risk dictate your policy. Bunker mentality never won any wars (‘scuse the cheesy war metaphor).
• Get tweeting. With social networking and Twitter, everyone can be heard. People need to be made aware of these tools and local government and the NHS need to show people how to use them and on which sites to use them.
• Campaign for change. It is now much easier for people to collaborate, build communities and campaign for change – just do it.
• Giving isolated people a voice. Social media can help to bring people out of isolation. Let them have a voice online and make their world a better place offline. It’s not rocket science.

As an aside, I’m working with Bromley council on a live day event which will involve isolated older people, and people with learning disabilites and mental health problems. We plan to connect them across the borough through a common social media platform, streaming the days events into homes, libraries and day care centres so everyone is involved.

The world needs more events like “Out of the Box”, we need to get to the widest possible audience with the help of media savvy people inside and outside local government, the NHS, charities and even the private sector. Let’s face it, central government and politicians can never be trusted to make change happen. It’s up to us.

There you have it. I suppose I’ve just written a manifesto. Pretty revolutionary stuff and it’s going to change everyone’s lives for the better. Eat yer heart out Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov and Josif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili.

Below are some video blogs of speakers at “out of the box”.

June 14, 2010

How social media will help local government to change the way people live

Filed under: Featured — andrewchilvers @ 3:48 pm

I’ve penned at length about the social media engagement programme we’ve been working on with Stockport council. But I’ve never fully explained the reason why Stockport have taken on such a radical (certainly for local government) means of engaging with staff and the wider community.

So here’s a bit of background…

Most councils around the UK have been instructed to change radically the way adult social care services are received by the public. In the acronym-strewn world of local government this translates as the mercifully short IBs (individual budgets).

It’s therefore ironic such a little acronym can herald such a huge break from existing social care practices.

It’s not my place here to write about the whys and wherefores of IBs, but it’s suffice to say that it will involve a colossal change in the way all agencies involved with adult social care run their operations. To give you some idea of the extent of the upheaval here’s a short list of some of those bodies and people affected:
• adults social services
o including all directors, managers, front line social workers, social care staff, office administrators, financial auditors etc (hundreds of thousands of people, in fact)
• children’s transition services
• people with learning disabilities
• people with mental health problems
• older people
• all providers of services incl:
o charities
o social enterprises
o agencies (those providing traditional meals on wheels, for instance) for all of the above services
o public sector bodies
o quangos.

The knock-on effects of such momentous changes to so many people will also necessarily involve NHS services and funding. So the network widens.

You can clearly see this will affect the lives of millions of people. And given that most of us act as carers sometime in our lives, I reckon this will touch every person in Britain at some point.

Not wanting to labour the point, these changes are BIG!

So no pressure…

Back to Stockport, the comms platform aims to tie all these disparate elements together in a single portal that works predominantly through video blogs, as well as written and audio material. The idea is to help record the experiences of people – staff and people using the services – so everyone has a voice and has the ability to participate in this culture change.

Last week Stockport formally hired their community manager for mental health services. Christopher Reeves is an ex-service user who will now go into Stockport and Greater Manchester to help build the online community. It’s a hugely ambitious and exciting project, but I’m sure it’s one that will be rewarding for Chris and the mental health community in equal measure.

Here’s Chris introducing himself to the network.

Christopher Reeves from careknowledge on Vimeo.

June 9, 2010

Social media: ibuprofen for the age of the global heartburn

Filed under: Featured — andrewchilvers @ 3:51 pm

Go online and key “social media” into google.

Actually don’t.

You’ll read 109 million times that social media is the ibuprofen for the age of the global heartburn.

Social media is a new religion, a God drawn up by prophets as diverse as doctorate students and bedsit web surfers. All of them are converts; all of them evangelists. Heretics beware.

So that probably makes me a heretic; I scoured the results list and I didn’t figure anywhere in the 109 million urls. Does that make me an unrated loser rather than a 21st century Lollard? Hey ho.

Which is a shame because I reckon the social media engagement pilots I’ve set up (with my team of media savvy oompa loompas) are breathing entities refreshingly cleansed of marketing hyperbole, professorial didacticism and general social media theoretical guff.

Next week we launch our stakeholder engagement portal for Suffolk Country Council. We’ve not written endless white papers on how social media will improve lives or about the risks involved with encouraging community networks.

We just sat down with communications manager Chris Pyburn and did it.

It’s a managed portal, a bottom up entity using interactive media such as Flip cameras and digital audio recorders. It will help record all the changes happening in adult social services among the staff and out to all the people using the services.

A kaleidoscope of viewpoints across the county.

And like all great ideas that look simple, the launch will be the result of months of internal and external work with the various communities in Suffolk. It has involved encouraging a culture change among staff, training events using flip cameras, setting up an editorial board and analysing different services, including:
• mental health
• learning disabilities
• older people
• workforce development
• transformation management (sounds naff, but these are seriously changing and challenging times in adult social services)

It also involved building links with local agencies and partners like Age Concern that work with Suffolk County Council; they provide services to people who are old, infirm, disabled or have mental health problems.

And all that is only the soft launch of phase 1…

Above all, though, the programme is about helping everyone, from staff to users of all services; to tell each other how they live their lives. That can’t be a bad thing.

So if social media can achieve all that in just three months – then count me as an evangelist.

Below Chris Pyburn talks to me about the engagement portal.

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