Digital innovation in social care and social work
Digital innovation in social care and social work

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Digital innovation in social care and social work

5 Supporting young people

Young people are common users of apps and digital technologies for information and entertainment (Beckman, Bennett and Lockyer, 2014). Research indicates that young people value accessibility and immediacy of information as well as the options to have personalised information which may be provided in digital technologies and apps (Gardner and Davis, 2014).

There is a unique power and potential to how digital technology can influence or support young people assuming they have access to it and it is centred around their needs, which is summed up in this quote from a youth adviser working for RErights, a project championing young people’s rights in the digital age:

Life is a blind lottery. You cannot choose the circumstances of your birth: your gender, your ethnicity, your parents’ wealth, or your disability. Yet technology has the immense potential to even the playing field. Technology can transform the way children learn, connect and discover opportunities for their wellbeing and development. In a world of growing inequalities and uncertainties, technology can be a source of empowerment, enabling children to become the authors of their futures and to rise above the cycle of disadvantage.

(Third et al., 2017, p. 3)

In the activity below, you will learn about Aye Mind, a project in Scotland designed to use the internet, social media and mobile technologies to support young peoples’ mental health.

Activity 4 The minds of young people in Scotland

Part 1

For the first part of this activity, watch the video and read the information page about this intervention using the link below. Make some notes as you watch on the following:

  • describing what this intervention is
  • how it could change service users’ experience of their social care.
Download this video clip.Video player: Video 2
Skip transcript: Video 2

Transcript: Video 2

FEMALE SPEAKER
If you work with young people, you'll know how hard it can be to help them talk about things that are difficult. They need to feel that their views, wishes, and feelings are being listened to. At the same time, you need to make sure you've recorded those views.
Mind Of My Own apps make all of this easier. Use the One App when you're one to one with a young person using their device or your computer. You can also have an account to use with children who aren't yet old enough to have their own. One App is there to guide the conversation, making it easier for them to express their views and for you to capture them.
For children with additional needs, we have an app called Express. It helps you gather their views in a way that suits them. After seeing the child, you don't need to write up their views. Mind of My Own sends you a PDF of what they said.
A young person can sign up to their own account on One App and use it anytime they want. It helps them structure their thoughts and say what they need to say. They get to choose who to send their views to so they are always in control. Get the Mind Of My Own apps, and open up new possibilities for your conversations with young people.
End transcript: Video 2
Video 2
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Information page about intervention: Mind Of My Own [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Part 2

Now watch this video of Callie, who is describing how she experienced care as a result of the intervention. As you watch, check back on your notes to see if they reflect any of the thoughts you had about how the intervention might change service users’ experience of care, and also whether it raises any additional points for you to think about.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 3
Skip transcript: Video 3

Transcript: Video 3

CALLIE
Hi, everyone. My name's Callie. I'm 18 years of age. And today, I'm going to be talking about Mind of My Own. I discovered Mind of My Own a few years ago. And I mainly used it back last year when my foster placement broke down. My social worker was seeing me in placement, so it was very difficult to tell her about my problems within placement, purely because carers could hear what was going on.
When I discovered Mind of My Own, I told my social worker via the app I wasn't happy. And this resulted in me meeting with her outside placement, which now I'm in a happy placement now here. And I couldn't be more over the moon. It's amazing.
Second of all, it's probably one the easiest ways to communicate with my social worker for me. Sometimes it's difficult trying to get a hold of your worker because they've got about 10 hundred million things to do at once. So Mind of My Own, like it pops up on their dashboard as email. And it's so clear. So for them, as a worker, I know that they know that their young person's trying to contact them.
And even as an app, it takes a face-to-face awkwardness away purely because I know when you're talking about problems, sometimes it's really even to talk about things you don't even want to talk about to a worker. So even if you've done the Mind of My Own statement, it notifies your worker. And you're not seeing them face-to-face. You can do it in your own time. It's purely down to the young person. And it probably is better for the worker as well because they know what's going on in your life.
What do I think about Mind of My Own? I think it's absolutely fantastic. It might not be for every young person, but if every young person does know about Mind of My Own, it could save another person's life, potentially. Without Mind of My Own, I don't know where I would be now. I can't thank the app enough.
It's amazing. It's easy. It's efficient. It's effective. It's brilliant. I can't thank it enough. So yeah, thank you.
End transcript: Video 3
Video 3
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Discussion

Describing the intervention: This intervention is about getting young people with mental health support needs to be able to feel comfortable communicating with care professionals who are assisting them. It also allows young people to document and self-monitor or track their own thoughts and feelings. This intervention comes in the shape of a series of apps called Mind of My Own. One app can be used during one-to-one conversations between the professional and the young person which makes it easier to describe feelings such as through the use of emojis. The app then sends a PDF of what the young person said. A young person can also use the app to structure and understand their thoughts, and they can choose to send it to others if they wish.

Changing care experiences: The app might help young people feel more in control of what they say to social care professionals, as they can make notes and then choose (or not choose) to send this information to social workers. The young people might find it easier to describe their emotions using the emojis as this is a common thing that we often do in text messaging and social media and so this may be a more socially acceptable way to share their feelings.

Reflecting on the video of Callie: This may have been in keeping with some of the thoughts you’d already had, but it was clearer to see how the app can be used to determine or direct the care needed. For example, Callie used this method of communication to say that she was unhappy in a foster care placement and this resulted in her changing placements which she found helpful. You might not have considered how the app could take away the awkwardness of face-to-face encounters with social workers for young people, which Callie describes in her video. Interestingly, Callie thinks the app may not be for every young person, but that every young person should be told about it so they have the option, and it could save lives. Callie also mentioned how her information would come up as a message on the dashboard for her social worker, which might have made you wonder about the effect on the professional. For social workers, they may feel a sense of reduced burden knowing that their young service users have an easily accessible way to reach them. However, they could also feel stressed and worried about being available to be contacted on the app all day, every day.

You may have made other notes and this app offers a lot of room for thought about how technology can be used to change social care experiences for young people.

You have learned about some of the powerful ways that technology can change or enhance social care in helpful ways. However, there are still a number of barriers to these changes and these may come from individuals not wanting to adopt technology or not having access to technology, along with their concerns about digital and technological interventions and tools.

In the next section, you will learn more about the barriers to some of these technological changes to social care.

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