BGS PR and Communications Update
In this update, Ed describes how, despite its daunting and chaotic nature, twitter can achieve effective change in clinical practice.
It has been a busy few months, as always, for the Society’s communications and media work.
Of course, the biggest BGS event in recent months has been the Spring Meeting in Nottingham. Social media was abuzz with discussions, learning points and interesting information from all of the sessions; 750 different people sent 4,000 tweets across the three days of the conference, reaching more people than ever before and breaking all of the records we set at the Autumn 2014 meeting in Brighton.
However, I did speak to a couple of people in Nottingham who were either sceptical about getting involved with Twitter, or unsure of exactly how it works! I thought this column might be a useful opportunity to highlight one particular example of the benefits it can bring:
One of the most popular and most widely-shared tweets from the conference was a photo of a word cloud presented in Wednesday’s nutrition session. Nurses had been told to ask patients “What one thing can I do right now to improve your stay in hospital?”. Surprisingly, the most popular answer was “Water”.
Clearly, this struck a chord: after posting the photo of the word cloud, people continued to share and discuss it, talking about their perspectives as professionals, patients or carers, and in one instance copied in the Hydration Lead at their local NHS Trust to continue the conversation!
Social media can be a slightly daunting and chaotic place if you’re not familiar with it, but it can also open up wonderful possibilities: in this case, a slide presented in Nottingham may well have ended up informing clinical practice in Cornwall.
If you’d like a quick primer on getting to grips with Twitter, or becoming more active if you are already familiar with it, then please feel free to get in touch with me at
The other event filling the headlines has of course been the General Election. From a communications perspective, the BGS message remains the same - namely that amidst limited resources and increasing demand, the NHS will only prosper if excellence in older people’s care is placed at the very heart of policy-making.
To help underline this message, we have been commissioning and writing press releases, blogs and other articles to help highlight some of the exceptional work being done across the UK. You will find a piece about Brenda Stagg, winner of the 2015 BGS Special Medal. It was written after I spent the day with her in Liverpool, finding out about some of the fascinating work she does for older people with dementia living in the city.
In similar fashion, the BGS blog continues to go from strength to strength, with writing covering everything from a new poetry collection responding to dementia, to geriatric medicine in Malta and treating dysphagia. BGS President Professor David Oliver has been a regular presence on radios across the world, appearing on LBC to discuss care homes, Radio 4’s You and Yours to talk about visiting hours, and as far afield as Ireland and Canada to compare each country’s approach to geriatric medicine with ours.
We have also been working closely with a number of other organisations and groups on collaborative projects. Dr Gill Turner and I recently attended the initial meeting for partnership organisations within the Coalition for Collaborative Care, which draws expertise from organisations across health and social care as well as the third sector. Our communications and member services review is also ongoing, conducted by Forsters, and should provide some useful insights on how to communicate the Society’s work even more effectively in the future!
PR and Communications Manager