OPINION | Ethics and dignity in social media for aged care

Social media is a form of journalism. Within this environment, journalists are afforded an interpretative freedom for the stories they share, as well as photographic license, within ethical boundaries.

Social media can also cross over into advertising, and, it is within this arena where a far stricter set of rules govern. Advertising across any form of media has always been guided by regulations and standards.

To consider both the journalism and advertising principals when we create our daily social media commentary via, for example, our Facebook page posts, is how we will retain the dignity in care ethos for aged care we need to protect our elders.

The medical regulators then ask that if you are advertising a regulated health service, your advertising must not:

  • be false, misleading or deceptive, or likely to be misleading or deceptive;
  • offer a gift, discount or other inducement, unless the terms and conditions of the offer are also stated;
  • use testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business;
  • create an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment; or
  • directly or indirectly encourage the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of a regulated health service.

Social media is a fantastic opportunity to connect with your community, to raise awareness and educate and to grow and enhance your network.

So, how is aged care different?

The complexity of aged care… and your role as a health or aged care professional within it, is changing. It is far more exposed and exposing.

This is a good thing in the main, but also one to be wary of the protect our elders. If we consider some of the dignity in care principals, in the context of media or social media, we might workshop these questions:

Analysing 3 Dignity in Care Principles

Support people with the same respect you would want for yourself or a member of your family. Q; Would you post that picture about your relative in a public forum? Would you share that story? What evidence do you have to suggest they are OK with it?

Respect people’s privacy. Q: Would you feel comfortable if someone came into your living room and took photos of your daily life? What parts of your life would you share?

Act to alleviate people’s loneliness and isolation. Q: Do you have it as part of your social media strategy that residents could be contacted, start conversations, or engage externally through your social media platforms? Or, are you giving them a voice (platform) to share their views and be heard and seen by their family and care recipients as still relevant and valued?

It’s time to question, understand and put in place your most dignified social media strategy.

**This article will be published in the ACIA Age Editor, Spring 2018

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