Social media policy in aged or disability care services

Over the last decade, social media has changed our whole world, and now every company and half of the global population seems to be trying to create that elusive ‘viral content’.

Aged and disability care services have been no exception, with organisations posting powerful and popular videos.

Remember that video of elderly residents shuffling along to the ‘Git Up’ challenge?

Didn’t see it?

Maybe you saw posts of residents sharing dating advice on Love Actually-style sign boards?

Or who can forget the beautiful scenes we all liked and shared when Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ blasted out of our phones on World Down Syndrome Day?

For businesses big and small, social media can be a blessing. But with one wrong post or a staff member behaving badly, even outside of work, it can become a brand’s biggest nightmare.

A social media policy dictates how your team can present your organisation when they are posting to social media, and often, how they can present themselves, even privately, if they have clear connections to your company on social media.

Every organisation should have a social media policy, and it should be provided to employees at induction, carefully explained and updated regularly.

Below is a very simple example, you can use as guidance – feel free to adjust and pad it out to cover all facets of your employee’s social media use as it relates to your business and brand.

[Business name] social media policy

As an organisation, [Business Name] has worked diligently to build its brand and its reputation as a high quality [disability/aged care] service, since its inception in [year].

This social media policy has been designed to help all of our valuable employees share the joys of working with our organisation, without ever putting themselves, our [residents/clients] or our brand at risk.

We understand many of our employees will also use social media for personal reasons, and this policy will help you understand your obligations when it comes to online communication about our organisation, team, residents or service.

If you are concerned, uncertain or need clarity with regards to our social media policy, please contact [position], [name] at [email].

What do we mean by ‘social media’?

In order to adhere to this policy, it is important we are all on the same page when it comes to the meaning of ‘social media’ or ‘online communication’.

Within this document, when we refer to ‘social media’ or ‘online’, we mean any and all information you may publish in any way either on a platform designed for interaction, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat, SnapChat, Tik Tok, YouTube or any similar platform, any online forum (public or private) or Wiki, or any website.

When we refer to ‘posting’, we mean publishing content in any way on social media, other online forums or websites.

When does this policy apply?

This policy applies to any and all employees of [business name] when you are using any social media platform or communicating online, in a way that will associate you with [business name].

This association may be direct or indirect: posting to or commenting on [business name’s] social media profiles; or posting or contributing on your own profiles, but either mentioning [business name], referring to it or sharing imagery from [business name].

If your personal profile indicates you work for [business name] in any way, this policy also applies when you are sharing or posting on your personal profiles on any matter.

Who can post on behalf of [business name]?

Our social media profiles are not open for all employees to post. They are managed by our [team name] team, and only the members of this team have the right to post any content on behalf of [business name].

Confidential Information

When posting as [business name] using our organisation’s profiles, or when posting on personal profiles, you must not share [brand names] confidential information or any information that belongs to [brand name].

You will also be required to consult with management prior to posting anything with a [business name] logo or branding, or posting imagery, footage or audio captured in the workplace, or when attending to a client in their home or at any other location.

Online conduct

The way you behave online can also have an impact on [business name], its reputation and on all of your colleagues. When posting online, do not publish:

  • Anything that may damage the reputation of [business name].
  • Anything that may compromise the privacy, security or well-being of [business name], any resident, client or any other employee.
  • Anything that suggests you are communicating on behalf of [brand name] unless you have explicit permission to do so, or anything that suggests your beliefs or opinions are supported by [brand name] without explicit permission.
  • Anything that is considered harassment, racist, sexist, discriminatory, defamatory, degrading or belittling.
  • Anything that is considered bullying.
  • Anything against the law.

Positive social media practices

When using social media, whether personally or on behalf of [business name], it is always helpful to remember:

  • Once it’s out there, it’s out there and it might not just affect you tomorrow, but for years to come! Always consider every post you intend to publish very carefully. Think about how other people, like your employer, future employers, family or friends might perceive it.
  • Just because you only share it with one friend, does not mean it is private. Always assume anything you post, even privately, may be shared or forwarded and seen by people who you didn’t intend to see it.
  • The internet can be a dangerous and risky place, so it’s important not to post any of your personal details, or those of other people, or any information that might enable people to be identified if they don’t want to be.
  • Respect yourself and respect other people – the old saying ‘treat others how you would like to be treated’ applies. Post about others only what you would be comfortable having posted about yourself.
  • Always read your post twice, out loud if you can. This can give some extra perspective before you publish information or an opinion to the world.

What not to do

Social media is not always easy and neither are rules, so below are a few examples of actions that may be considered a breach of this policy:

  • Taking video of an elderly resident and posting to [business name] or your own personal profiles without the resident’s or [business name’s] permission (preferably in writing).
  • Commenting on a complaint a resident or client’s family has made online about you or [business name’s] service.
  • Setting your profile to show you work for [brand name] or posting pictures of yourself in uniform or indicating in a post you work for [business name] and then posting in an offensive or discriminatory manner.
  • Announcing the building of a new wing at [business name] before it has been formally announced (this would be classed as confidential information).
  • Making racist comments about another employee on your own social media profile (this could be classed as bullying).

Breach response

The response to any breach will be managed on a case-by-case basis depending on the action of the person who has breached the policy. This person may be informally warned, officially receive a warning, or in some cases, may be terminated.

This article does not constitute legal advice. Any social media policy developed by an organisation should be assessed by their lawyer prior to being published and made available to employees.

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