Convergence has worked in health sector communications for the past 13 years and is now well regarded as a leading health specialist public relations consultancy. We have provided advice to all facets of the health sector, working with numerous district health boards (DHBs), non-government organisations (NGOs), private hospitals and private sector health businesses.
One of Convergence’s key points of difference is our hands-on experience working within the New Zealand public health sector. Our team has developed extensive expertise operating as senior advisors and developed an intimate knowledge of the complexities surrounding health sector governance and decision-making.
For three years, Convergence partner Erin Jamieson worked with the West Coast DHB on a transformational change project. This has involved communications management of numerous contentious issues such as closure of the laundry and other services in small towns, redundancies and seismic concerns resulting in closure of public buildings. Concurrently we have supported the DHB with communications associated with complex, high profile medical issues referred to the Health Quality and Disability Commissioner which attracted national media coverage.
Erin was part of the Canterbury DHB’s communications team which won the PRINZ (Public Relations Institute of NZ) inaugural Crystal Clear Literacy Award for the campaign Reducing the impact of Swine Flu in Canterbury. The campaign was also highly commended in the quasi-government category. Erin had previously managed the public communications strategy and implementation of the Meningococcal B vaccination programme in Canterbury, as well as the Vote Fluoride campaign – a joint project with the Otago and Southland District Health Boards.
Prior to joining Convergence, partner Steve Attwood specialised in health issues reporting amassing a broad general knowledge – especially in regard to the interaction between health and media organisations and the use of media to support health promotion campaigns.
This experience led to Steve being appointed as the New Zealand AIDS Foundation’s trainer/health promoter for the South Island. As part of this work, Steve presented HIV/AIDS and ‘understanding human sexuality’ workshops to GPs through the Continuing Medical Education programme. He also presented to nurses and doctors throughout South Island DHBs, as well as Maori health providers, police, teachers, social workers and youth workers through individual contracts.
At the same time Steve, through the AIDS Foundation, was appointed to the Christchurch School of Medicine as a clinical lecturer, delivering the HIV/AIDS course to medical students. As a result of this community work, Steve was asked to create a video on managing media relations for the Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Like Minds Like Mine’ campaign, see: www.likeminds.org.nz. This video has been a popular resource for health and community groups.
In 2013 Steve was tasked to manage internal (staff and stakeholders, government agencies and contractors) and external (media, community – specifically Maori – and patients/clients) relations for the then Rata Te Awhina Trust, the only Maori health provider on the West Coast, while it underwent a substantial restructuring. The role required a deep awareness of the inter-Maori and inter-community experiences of Rata Te Awhina and the different factions that were for and against the existing organisation before the restructure commenced. Clear communication was also required to ensure the change in management was presented in a way that funders, clients/patients, the Maori community and health providers retained (or gained) confidence in the process and its outcomes so the trust could continue to function and deliver its services.
Convergence has also worked with the South Island Alliance, a partnership between the five South Island district health boards tasked with working towards a more clinically and financially sustainable health system for the South Island.
The following is a summary of our existing and former health sector clients:
- Canterbury District Health Board
- Canterbury Clinical Network
- Christchurch Women’s Refuge
- NZ Association of Orthodontists
- NZ Dermatological Society Incorporated
- NZ School and Community Dental Service
- NZ Society of Hospital and Community Dentistry
- Otago District Health Board
- Promed Technologies
- Richmond New Zealand
- Rural Canterbury PHO
- RYDAA (a not for profit organisation which has developed a programme to help educate young people about road safety)
- Southland District Health Board
- South Island Alliance (alliance of five DHBs in the South Island)
- Southern Community Laboratories
- St George’s Private Hospital
- West Coast District Health Board
- Canterbury DHB
- Meningococcal B Vaccination Programme – Canterbury District Health Board
- ProMed Technologies – product launch
- Southern District & Otago DHB – Vote Fluoride Campaign
Testimonial – West Coast District Health Board
Convergence Communications was contracted to provide strategic communications advice, media relations support, research and planning to the West Coast DHB for two years.
Convergence’s role was to assist the senior management team with a range of communications services as the DHB undertook transformational change of health service delivery on the West Coast.
This work involved researching the public perception of the role the Board has on the West Coast and an analysis of how the WCDHB communicated to its communities of interests. Work also involved developing recommendations and strategies to improve communication, so that the public not only understood, but came to support the transformational change of the delivery of services that were proposed.
Convergence also developed a comprehensive internal communications strategy to ensure staff were well aware of transformational change initiatives prior to the community being consulted.
Convergence’s work proved invaluable to the implementation of our goal to review and revise every aspect of the West Coast DHB delivery of health services on the West Coast and how they were communicated to the wider community. It was a difficult, challenging and sometimes fraught process but the clear, adaptable and professionally rigorous communications strategies developed by Convergence helped ensure that the public felt not only had they been listened to, they had been influential and included.
David Meates, MNZM, Chief Executive, West Coast DHB and Canterbury DHB