BGS communications update
There has been a good deal of exciting communications-related work over the past two months, covering everything from tweeting and blogging to political campaigns.
The headline item for us has been the lead-up to the General Election. We’ve produced a pre-election BGS position paper, now available on our website in both long and short versions, which asks the incoming Government to take six key decisions relating to older people’s care.
This document is geared towards the healthcare systems in England and Wales, but it also covers a number of UK-wide issues; we’re also working on tailored versions of the document for Northern Ireland and Scotland.
As she’s explained in her newsletter column, Patricia Conboy and other colleagues have been busy meeting MPs and Government ministers, highlighting the key problems facing older people and offering expert guidance from the BGS on how to improve standards of care. This has been supported by broader media outreach: we’ve publicised the campaign’s launch in the media, David Oliver has appeared next to Norman Lamb MP on LBC Radio, focusing on questions around health and social care, and we’re working on a series of BGS blogs covering each of the 6 decisions in our policy paper.
We’d be thrilled for BGS members to get involved by contacting their local MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates, asking them to focus on high-quality care for older people and work with the BGS to deliver this.
One of the easiest ways to help, if you’re active on social media, is to tweet your local MP and political parties with the hashtag #6decisions, linking to the election paper on the BGS website, and letting them know that the BGS is keen to work with them! This doesn’t have to happen via Twitter, of course: you could send them a Facebook message or email them too.
If communicating digitally isn’t your thing, then writing to your local MP as a constituent would be fantastic, as would asking a question if you’re attending a hustings or debate, or mentioning the BGS if a candidate is canvassing in your neighbourhood! If you’d like some glossy printed copies of the policy paper to help you do this, please contact and I’ll be happy to post some out to you.
BGS and the media
Beyond the launch of our general election materials, Dr Eileen Burns appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss meeting the challenges of an ageing population; Dr James Woodward provided a geriatrician’s perspective on questions from GPs in a recent issue of Pulse; we’ve put out press releases on the latest Age & Ageing research covering the assessment of depression and new patient-report experience measures in Intermediate Care. We also ran a day of media training for members willing to be put on the spot when the Society gets media enquiries.
We have been working hard to build new alliances including signing up as partner with two relatively new campaigns. The first, John’s Campaign, is led by journalist and author Nicci Gerrard: it looks to improve hospital visitation rights for the family and carers of people with dementia, to ensure that patients have the emotional support they need throughout their stay. The second, the Coalition for Collaborative Care, seeks to draw together expertise from organisations across the health, social care and voluntary sectors to improve care for older people.
Finally, we’ve been busy on social media: the BGS blog has featured pieces recently on deprescribing (from a new Age & Ageing paper), perspectives on the BGS leadership conference from a geriatrician based in Canada, a film review of Still Alice and a particularly striking piece by Adam Gordon on the thorny issue of challenging poor care at the same time as celebrating excellence.
As always, if you’re interested in blogging for the BGS we’d love to hear from you: please get in touch if there’s a subject close to your heart, and we’ll help you tell the world about it!
BGS Communications Manager