Ask the care expert: What resources are available to develop a staff Facebook policy?

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Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
Q: Our facility is thinking about developing a policy regarding staff posting on Facebook, as some staff recently talked about a resident (no names) there. Do you have suggestions on where to find information?

Developing social media guidelines is a good idea for any facility. I would recommend starting with the HIPAA Privacy rule, which can be found at www.hhs.gov./ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/privacysummary.pdf  You will find lots of information there to assist you, not only with this particular policy, but on many others with reference to employee policies. Identifiable information about a resident, whether it's discussed in the cafeteria or on Facebook, is never okay, which should be made clear to employees.

Employees should know that recruiters are now using all forms of social media in screening employees. They find out a lot about recruits from their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. In fact, a 2009 survey showed that 45% of employers use social networking sites to screen job applicants, according to a recent article at Nurse.com. Some organizations alert applicants that Internet searches will be conducted on all applicants who are conditionally offered employment.

Social media guidelines often state that use of a site cannot distract from one's job responsibilities. Much like email, anything posted on a work computer should not have the expectation of privacy. Some facilities choose to block certain social media sites, or allow only certain departments like marketing to have access.

When forming a policy, don't forget to ask other facilities to share what they have. Many companies have policies that have gone through legal reviews. Sometimes spending a few dollars for a professionally written policy saves time and money in the long run.
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