Letter to Members

Dear Members,
We all find ourselves in unchartered waters with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of you are probably reading this sat in spare bedrooms or equivalent that have now become your daily place of work. Although the commute might be shorter, and for those with children you may find the ability to see more of them a pleasure, the lack of face-to-face social contact and the interruptions or disturbance by those same family members will no doubt be reminding you that office life does have its benefits at times! Despite these many changes, we are also all trying to maintain momentum and business continuity.
As your organisation representing the healthcare communications sector, we too have been working hard to ensure we have adapted to the current norm and, importantly, that we can continue our mission to support the sector through:     
  1. Driving best practice and quality standards
  2. Providing education and professional development support
  3. Offering networking and mentoring opportunities
  4. Co-ordinating business intelligence opportunities and sharing knowledge
We have been working closely with our colleagues, working groups and training partners to evolve and enhance our plans and activity.  Thanks to everybody’s enthusiasm and commitment we can now share our plans for the coming months with you.

Importantly, the next few months will see more, not less activity.

We are increasing the frequency of our virtual Shared Experience meetings to keep us informed in areas that can help us now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as when we come out the other side.    
Professional development remains a key component of developing our people and, with an ambitious and limited talent pool, we want to ensure there is the continued access to the CPD courses we provide. We are currently developing many of our CPD courses to allow these to be held virtually; maintaining the quality content but adapting the structure and timings to better suit the format, whilst ensuring the important group interaction and discussion. Please visit the HCA website and look for our emails which will provide information on the courses and dates as they become available.
Now, more than ever, we need to constantly update our understanding of what you need from the HCA to support the sector and the work you do.  We will therefore be announcing a series of virtual communications leaders’ forums allowing you to share and discuss your experiences and new challenges with your peers, and hopefully identify where and how the HCA can provide any additional support required.  However, please don’t just wait until the forums.  We are keen to hear your thoughts whenever they occur.  Please email me, mikedixon@the-hca.org.
In the last few weeks, we have already launched our new Social Media Guidance. We will also continue to deliver our other planned initiatives including those on sustainability and the commissioning digital and working with journalists best practice guides. We have already invited agencies to join this year’s benchmarking survey and if you are interested and have not yet registered, please email: benchmarking@the-hca.org.
Recognising the impact that social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the NHS, health charities and other not-for-profits, and knowing many of you would be keen to volunteer your skills and time, we will soon be launching a microsite that will share with members volunteering opportunities within charities. We are also now extending this to include NHS and other health related not-for-profit organisations and, in the spirt of community, will invite volunteering from right across the sector. The launch of the site, healthcommsvolunteers.com, will be announced soon. If you know an appropriate organisation that needs volunteer support, or if you are able to help those that do, then please visit the site when it goes live.
As we hope you can see, the HCA remains focused on our sector, delivering even more activity and initiatives considering needs now and for the future, whilst being ready and willing to listen to how else we can support our members.
Over the coming weeks we look forward to seeing you at virtual meetings and training, sharing HCA initiatives with you and hearing your views and thoughts. In the meantime, we encourage you to please follow government advice and keep safe.
Kind regards,
Mike Dixon       Alice Choi
CEO HCA          Chair