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The Ripple Effect by Teresa Chinn MBE

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: All Our Health, Nursing, WeLearn


When I first started tweeting and blogging as a nurse someone likened my journey to the throwing starfish story, I am not sure if you know it? It goes something like this:

One day a man was walking along a beach when he noticed that there were hundreds and thousands of starfish on the sand, as he walked a little further he saw a young boy throwing the starfish back into the sea. The man asked the boy what he was doing and stated that he couldn’t possibly help all of the starfish. The boy bent down and picked up another starfish and threw it into the water and said “I made a difference to that one”

This story, I felt, is one that I can relate to in a big way as the enormity of social media and healthcare can sometimes be overwhelming – there are many people, many conversations, and so much noise that it can be very easy to walk on by. By stopping and picking up and engaging with people we can make a difference to them, however, something I have learnt recently is that making a difference to one person can also create ripples as that one person can go on to make a difference to another person and another person and another … and so on!

Making a difference and creating ripples is something that we were able to do in abundance earlier this year when Public Health England and WeCommunities came together to develop a social learning platform – WeLearn #AllOurHealth.

What is WeLearn - #AllOurHealth?

'WeLearn - #AllOurHealth' is a WeCommunities and Public Health England social learning collaboration that ran throughout January. The key aspects of were:

  • Learning OUT LOUD in an entirely virtual social media space,
  • Short bursts of learning (10-15 minutes a day)
  • 4 hour long Tweetchats,
  • All underpinned by a Twitter hashtag “#AllOurHealth”. Encouraging discussion, sharing and peer to peer support
  • Inter-professional learning – because All Our Health is for all of us and we can all learn from each other

One of the amazing things about using social media to learn and develop is that it’s not only about throwing starfish and creating ripples but also, due to the open nature and the technological capabilities of social media, we are able to see the effect that these ripples have had. We were able to develop case studies that showed the impact that healthcare professionals using social media to learn about the All Our Health framework had on the people we care for. One great example was a cardiac care staff nurse who took part in WeLearn #AllOurHealth and found some resources around walking groups, she then used these resources as part of her discharge process with patients and shared with us how one patient in particular not only signed up to the walking group but his extended family also signed up. Another example was a physio therapist who as a result of WeLearn #AllOurHealth set up a Musculoskeletal Facebook Group to share information and learning from Public Health England with colleagues.

WeLearn #AllOurHealth took learning, development and championing the prevention agenda to the next level. The open style of learning meant that aspects of the learning enagaged 1,405 people via the Twitter alone and at least 950 hours of learning took place. It created and identified ambassadors for the prevention agenda including AHPs, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, paramedics, health visitors, and commissioners across not only England but also the world. I am really looking forward to sharing the WeLearn #AllOurHealth journey at the upcoming Public Health England conference as the future of social media and the prevention agenda is all about tapping into the potential of social learning ….throwing starfish, creating ripples and seeing the impact of those ripples.

Whilst 'WeLearn- #AllOurHealth' ran from the WeLearn platform it embraced many types of social media: Twitter, YouTube, Podcasts, Twitter Storms, Steller Stories, Slide Shares, Blogs, Tweetchats and Infographics all of which helped to bring the All Our Health framework to life and into practice.


Teresa Chinn MBE is a Registered Nurse, and Professional Social Media Community Development and blogger for WeNurses.

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