Social Media & IT for Staff Supporting Vulnerable People

Sep 27, 2014

IT and social media are powerful resources for social care bringing great benefits but also new risks. Should staff accept friend requests from people who use services? Can you discipline a member of staff for writing a critical blog post about your organisation? Can staff use their personal mobile devices at work?

To support staff to make the right choices we have worked with many social care employers to develop policies, procedures and training resources on the appropriate use of social media and information communications technology:

Accepting Friend or Link Requests from People Who Receive Services

Guidance should be provided of the employer’s position on accepting requests from people who they provide or have provided services to. The best way to decide your stance on this issue is to think how you expect workers to maintain the professional boundary with the people who they provide services to. The majority of employer’s advise staff not to accept such requests to maintain professional boundaries and protect access to personal and sensitive information about them and/or their colleagues.

Derogatory or Critical Comments Published on Blogs or Trolling

Caution staff not to publish critical or derogatory comments about their employer, their colleagues or people who use services and advise such conduct may result in disciplinary action. This helps safeguard your reputation and help prevent the risk of on-line bullying or harassment. Staff should be advised if they have a complaint about their employer or another employee to use the relevant grievance, complaint or whistleblowing procedure.

Visiting Inappropriate Web Sites

Warn staff not to visit websites that may be offensive to others such as pornographic or gambling sites on any item of equipment owned by the employer or on their own equipment whilst at work. Be clear to define what you mean by pornographic as people will have their own interpretations. Advise staff that visiting such sites may result in disciplinary action.

The Right to Monitor E-mail and Internet Use

To comply with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 employers must advise staff in advance if they will be monitoring their e-mail, internet use and voice mail. To help employers reserve this right we have drafted a clause that is included in the statement of terms and conditions of employment. To monitor usage employers must have a comprehensive procedure that prohibits non-work related communication and advises staff all their business communications may be subject to monitoring. Monitoring should only be undertaken to check compliance with your acceptable use guidelines.

Internet and Social Media Use in Working Hours

Set clear guidance about personal use during working hours. This very much depends on individual organisations, some employers impose a complete ban whilst others permit use outside of working hours and during unpaid breaks. Any personal use must be in accordance with the acceptable usage guidelines.

Protecting Personal and Sensitive Information

As part of their day to day work social care staff will be responsible for processing and storing highly sensitive information about people who receive services. To minimise the risk of a data breach train staff on protecting such information with restrictions placed on transferring personal and sensitive data to personal IT equipment or data storage devices.

Use of Personal Mobile and Data Devices

People who use services have frequently told me how uncomfortable they feel when their worker is using their mobile or has a blue tooth ear piece in place during support sessions. Provide clear guidance to staff on when they can have their personal mobile phone on at work, ideally switched off during working hours unless there is an emergency

Help protect the people who use services, your staff and your organisation reputation by requesting information by clicking here.

This article is for information only and does not constitute professional or legal advice.

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