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Using social media wisely: guidance issued by the Health and Care Professions Council

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Social media platforms offer many benefits but caution may be needed, warns HCPC

Physique
Physique

Physiotherapists should always take time to 'think' before posting items on social media, according to guidance issued by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

'Thinking before you post, and ensuring you know the evidence that underpins the content you are sharing, or the impact it might have, is vital in stopping the spread of misinformation and its harmful effects.

'You can also help others if you see them posting misinformation. You should never shame them, but you can work to understand why they might have posted the content they have and explain the damage it could cause. If you can, take the discussion offline and out of the glare of social media,' the guidance suggests.

'Excellent tool'

On the plus side, the guidance states that social media can be an 'excellent tool' if used wisely by healthcare professionals.

'It provides opportunities for colleagues to keep in touch and share information promptly, as well as showing examples of best practice. It can provide opportunities for isolated professionals (whether by location or area) to learn from their peers, facilitating  continuous professional development. Social media can also raise the profile of professions, helping professionals reach out to the public and combat misinformation.'

Professionalism

As with any online platform, social media needs to be used with care to avoid 'difficult situations and abuse, according to HCPC guidance released in March 2022. While many platforms - such as Twitter, Facebook and TikTok - encourage informality, physios and other healthcare professionals using them must 'hold themselves to the same standard of professionalism as they would in person', it warns.

Getting it right (a summary)

  • have a clear purpose in mind for your posts, and a firm idea of who can see what you’re sharing. Once those are in place, it is much easier to determine what is professional and what - however well intentioned - crosses the line
  • remember that, while a situation can feel urgent, you very rarely need to react immediately on social media. If you are unsure of the tone of what you’re about to send, waiting and seeking advice is always the wisest course of action
  • social media rarely conveys the full context and intent of your words. Information spreads swiftly on the internet and will reach audiences you may not have considered

Professional bodies such as the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and employers should also have relevant policies and guidance, the HCPC guidance adds. To see the CSP's guidance for members, visit: https://www.csp.org.uk/publications/social-media-guidance-csp-members

To see the HCPC guidance in full, with links to other relevant resources, visit: https://www.hcpc-uk.org/news-and-events/blog/2022/using-social-media-wisely/?s=03

 

Physique
Physique
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