GUEST POST: Live tweeting to tell a human frontline story

Sometimes a press release just isn’t enough to tell a story. Living day-to-day as a carer can be tough. To give a flavour of just how tough Walsall Council comms team members Tina Faulkner and Becky Robinson live tweeted four hours to show – with sensitivity – how dementia affects the life of one couple Sheila and Ron. You can follow it here and you can also read their story here. But this one powerful story is just part of a wider drive to highlight often unseen work carried out in social care in Walsall. Tina explains the background to the innovative campaign which uses a mix of old and new media: 

If I could wear a t-shirt that best describes how I feel about work right now it would bear the slogan “I heart Social Care”.

Sheila and Ron Haynes. Sheila gives round-the-clock care to husband Ron.

I can see some of you now, exchanging a knowing look with your laptop or iphone and thinking,  “Yep, she’s a social worker.”

Not a bit of it. In fact I’d be a rubbish social worker. I’d just want to scoop everybody up and take them home with me and we just haven’t got the room. Plus the retired greyhound would have something to say about that. He’s very set in his ways.

No, I heart social care as a press and pr officer who is working to try and dispel some of the myths about this area of work and highlight some of the innovative things that are going on. The things that are making a real difference to people’s lives and should be shouted about.

I have been working with my colleague Becky Robinson, a public information officer, to run week-long multi-media “events” called Who Cares? (see what we did there!) to show a side to social care that’s not picked up on.

The first one we did was last November and we featured the story of a paraplegic man who left residential care after 27 years to live independently, with support.

We Tweeted the calls coming into our social work teams which ranged from adult safeguarding tip-offs to families and carers wondering how to make life easier for loved ones leaving hospital.

We also showcased the stuff done by the community social work scheme which can sometimes be a simple as helping someone find a friendship club in their community to get them out of the house a few times a week.

And our Neighbourhood Community Officers got a look-in too as they go into some seemingly hopeless situations and bring about a sea change.

All in all it was a great week and we know it made some people sit up and take notice.

So it seemed only right to do it all again. And make some more people sit up and take notice.

This time round we’re tweeting from the home of a lady who cares for her husband with dementia to try and convey the relentless demands and challenges that this role brings and to try and make us all a bit more aware of dementia and mental health issues.

We’re tweeting from a carers’ consultation session too and featuring the partnership work being done in our communities to offer people of all ages, something to do and somewhere to go.

And we’re looking at people with learning and physical disabilities who were sent out of the borough for care many years ago, away from their families and communities, who are being supported to come back.

If we can achieve this in social care with all of its perceived “barriers” we can achieve it anywhere.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from all this it’s “Don’t assume people won’t want to speak about their experiences.”

In our experience they have no problem with speaking up – it’s getting people to listen that’s the key.

You can follow the tweets from @whocareswalsall on Twitter or via this link on CoveritLive:


A social care blog: The Who Cares Walsall blog

A tweeting social worker: @ermintrude2

Shirley Ayres: Why social media is important to social care: challenges and opportunities by Shirley Ayres

The Guardian: Walsall uses Twitter to ask who cares about social care

The Guardian: Social care and social media live discussion round-up 

Community Care: Time for social work to embrace social media

Creative commons credit:


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  1. I can vouch for the fact that Tina really does heart social care. I had the fantastic opportunity to work for a day with Dan’s team and Tina’s passion came across loud and clear in just a couple of minutes talking about this project. Not only is she passionate about social care, she’s passionate about telling the real stories that bring council services to life and that’s the sign of a great communicator.
    Walsall has a great comms team – I salute you <(..)!

    1. Thanks Carolyne. I think we learned even more from you when you visited. You are right about Tina (and Becky). They are on a bit of a mission and you can’t fail to be impressed by that.

  2. Reblogged this on Jon Gill and commented:
    The project below published by Dan Slee on his blog today is an extremely powerful example of how Social Media can be used to serve communities and individuals and there understanding of lives that often go unseen.
    It’s also extremely relevant in the light of this case from Lincoln Crown Court yesterday (
    I’ve written previously about a similar example where a carer of someone suffering with end stage Cancer documented the day-to-day life of her and her husband using the photosharing app Instagram. (Users of Instagram can find more information by following @dissipating on Instagram).
    When, sadly, the husband died earlier this year the story didn’t end. The images continue and now document the struggle of dealing with loss.
    It occured to me that Service Designers create fake scenarios and personas all the time to better understand the journeys and issues of users. While a real story, as reported on Slee’s Blog is probably the best and most powerful example, perhaps in areas where a specific case cannot be used or found, then surely our fake ones could be used to similar effect. After all, Personas and Scenarios as used by Designers are composites of many lives indicative of the problems we aim to tackle.
    But, enough from me… here’s Dan Slee!

  3. Today, I went to the beach front with my kids. I found a sea
    shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!

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