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Case Study 1 - Kathy

Developing and sharing skills and knowledge and networking with other professionals using social media


Kathy is a social worker, working in a local authority, and has recently trained as a best interests assessor. This role means she needs to keep up-to-date with legal requirements and Government policy and as a result Kathy regularly has to attend training sessions to retain her qualification.

During these training sessions, Kathy gets to meet other best interests assessors working across the country. Many of these assessors come from different professional and employment backgrounds, including occupational therapists and nurses working in the NHS and social workers working for care providers. Kathy has found meeting professionals from a wide range of backgrounds really useful, as it has helped her to gain a new perspective on some of the aspects of her role and exchange information about best practice and other work matters.

Kathy is one of only a small team of best interests assessors in her local authority. As a result she does not always have other professionals to discuss her work, so she is keen to keep these professional contacts. Kathy has recently made friends on Facebook with several of the best interests assessors she met at training events. She is hoping to use Facebook to network with them and continue to share skills and knowledge about her role. However as her profile contains lots of information about her personal life, she doesn’t think it’s appropriate to use this in her professional life.

In order to replicate the environment at her training session, Kathy decides to create a private Facebook discussion group with her best interests assessor friends on Facebook. In this group they share updates about their practice, discuss best practice and share professional contacts. The privacy settings on the group mean that she can discuss work freely without this crossing into her personal life, or impeding on the sensitive nature of her work. She is still mindful of the confidentiality of her service users though, and doesn’t share identifiable information or facts when referring to her personal experiences. She also keeps her interactions on social media to the same professional tone she would usually use at a professional training or networking event. In addition, Kathy makes sure to check any information she receives on the group with reputable sources before applying it to her practice.

As a result of social media, Kathy has been able to develop her professional skills and knowledge and also build a network of professional contacts to help her in her future work.