CHAIN (the Contact, Help, Advice and Information Network), is an online support network for people working in health and social care. The Network originated over 20 years ago in the United Kingdom (UK), and has since grown into an international, online community of over 15,000 people who are willing to share their knowledge and experience with each other.

CHAIN is multi-professional and cross-organisational, and is designed to connect like-minded health and social care practitioners, educators, researchers, patient research partners, and managers. It covers the whole of the UK, and is now international, with satellites in Australia, Canada, Scandinavia, Italy and Spain. There are members in around 40 other countries around the world too!

CHAIN is is free to join and use. It is funded by a consortium of eleven stakeholder organisations, including the National Institute for Health Research.  The network uses searchable online directories to enable members to identify one another, and simple emails can be shared between members for networking purposes.

What does CHAIN offer?

CHAIN offers:

  • An unparalleled pool of experience and knowledge;
  • Multi-professional, cross-organisational networking;
  • A non-hierarchical and informal structure;
  • Responsive and supportive members;
  • Precisely targeted messages;
  • The ability to locate contacts locally from within one country, or internationally;
  • Undemanding, voluntary and free membership;
  • More than 30 sub-groups to join (these are described below).

CHAIN Membership

Membership is free to anyone working in health and social care, and members may join the network, update their record or leave at any time. Involvement in the family of organisations involved in health and social care; being willing to share experience and aspirations, and being prepared to respond to other members’ questions are the only criteria for joining CHAIN. There are also patient research partners who are members of CHAIN, as it’s a useful way for them to keep up to date with the latest news, training opportunities and publications.

We received a large number of applications this year and this would not have been possible without [CHAIN’s] help in spreading the word. We’ve now come to the end of our recruitment drive and have successfully appointed members of the public to sit on our national and regional panels across England.”

To join, you will need to complete an online membership form here. Once you are a member, you will be able to search the CHAIN online directory, which includes information about members’ interests, background and current role, as well as their contact details. You can use the directory to look for people with the same interests as you, or to explore different areas. The directory is updated at the end of every week. Please note: You will need to use your username and password which you will create upon registration, in order to access the online directory.

CHAIN Sub-groups

CHAIN has many sub-group, which are frequently the mechanism for mobilising the rich and diverse experience of the CHAIN membership. You will be able to select specific sub-groups to join upon registering. You will also be able to continually update your preference as you go along. Joining these sub-groups is akin to traditional email lists, in that all members will receive group updates via email.

The circulation of our survey through the CHAIN network has been very successful. Almost fifty members have responded to the invitation. Participation has exceeded our expectations, and we have now achieved a better representation of managers, policy makers, nurses, and other health professionals.”

The current list of CHAIN sub-groups and Special Interest Groups include:

  • Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR);
  • Bereavement and loss;
  • Better care without delays;
  • Cancer services and support (Special interest groups: Macmillan professional; Benefits and other financial help; Cancer care pathways; Cancer information and support; Cancer research; End of life care in cancer; Ethical and spiritual issues; Learning and development; Lymphoma; Outcome measures/audit in cancer; Out of hours care in cancer; Palliative care for cancer; Prescribing (medical and non-medical); Physical environments of cancer care; Primary care and cancer; Rehabilitation for cancer patients; Strategy development; Symptom/pain management in cancer; Survivorship and living with cancer; Treatment and complementary and alternative medicine in cancer);
  • Clinical audit;
  • Dementia;
  • Diabetes;
  • E-learning;
  • Equality and diversity (Special interest group: Black and minority ethnic (BME) health and social care);
  • Health and wellbeing (Special interest groups: Obesity; and Cycling for health and wellbeing);
  • Healthcare ethics;
  • Human resources, organisational development and workforce planning, education and training of health and social care workforce;
  • Improving patients’ experience;
  • Leadership;
  • Mentoring and coaching;
  • Networks and networking;
  • Nurses, midwives and allied health professionals (AHPs) in clinical academic research;
  • Patient and public involvement;
  • Patient safety;
  • Poverty and health;
  • Primary care researchers in Scotland;
  • Prison and forensic health;
  • Published researchers (Special interest groups: Clinical trials; Qualitative Research; and Systematic reviews);
  • Quality improvement (Special interest groups: Healthcare associated infection; Clinical microsystems; Lean thinking; and Health analysts);
  • Research ethics;
  • Research governance;
  • Self-management of long-term conditions;
  • Service improvement (Special interest groups: Service improvement among allied health professionals);
  • Substance misuse and addictions (Special interest groups: Drug/Illicit Substance misuse; Tobacco addiction/smoking; Alcohol; Non-illicit substance misuse; Non-substance related addictive behaviours);
  • Technologies (Special interest groups: Computational neurology; Regenerative medicine; Telecare, telemedicine, teleconsulting; Bio-technical and adaptive devices; The use of social media; Applied information technology);
  • Workplace based learning.

Once you’ve joined, make use of CHAIN

The team at CHAIN would like to encourage you to make more use of CHAIN, because the more it is used, the better it gets. Seeking advice, feedback or information from other CHAIN members, or drawing attention to events or resources could not be easier. Simply email: enquiries@chain-network.org.uk and the CHAIN team will circulate an appropriately targeted message. It’s as easy as that. You can also contact the team to pass on information on opportunities that you may wish to share with other CHAIN members.

Get social

Don’t forget to follow CHAIN on social media! You’ll find several links to useful resources, publications, funding opportunities and so on, on the different platforms. You can find the network on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Written by simonrstones

Simon Stones BSc (Hons) is an award-winning patient leader, advocate and researcher from Manchester in the UK, who was the winner of the international WEGO Health Award for Patient Healthcare Collaborator in 2017. He is a passionate advocate and ambassador for people living with invisible illnesses, inspired and empowered by his own journey with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory bowel disease since childhood. He is currently an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society, and a trustee of Fibromyalgia Action UK and RAiISE.