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Health visitors urged to embrace social media as public health tool

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Health visitors and school nurses have been encouraged to use social media in their work because they have the “most opportunities” to use it as a tool, compared to other public health nursing roles.

Anne Cooper, NHS England’s clinical informatics advisor for nursing, set them the challenge to develop new ways of using social media to support communities.

“Even if you decide you personally don’t want participate, you need to understand this world”

Anne Cooper

She added that using social media was also an “incredibly powerful” way for public health nurses to stay informed about developments within their profession.

Ms Cooper was speaking at the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association annual conference in Birmingham, where she encouraged the audience to experiment with a range of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Youtube.

Anne_Cooper_JpgAnne Cooper

The vast majority of 16 to 24-year-olds use social networks, said Ms Cooper. “Even if you decide you personally don’t want participate, you need to understand this world,” she added.

However, she warned health visitors about problems with confidentiality when using online tools to speak with patients.

Ms Cooper said: “Online generally is permanent and you need to be mindful of that. You are operating in a role where you are potentially communicating with people and you have a professional responsibility to their confidentiality.”

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