Workplace Wellness Programme goes city-wide

A pioneering Workplace Wellness programme, developed by Sheffield Hallam University on behalf of the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN), is to be implemented in a number of public sector organisations across Wakefield.Howard and the team2

The city-wide implementation was launched at Wakefield’s first Wellness Summit on Tuesday 5th July and is the first time that the Workplace Wellness programme has been implemented at such a scale across one city.

The Workplace Wellness Programme aims to improve the health and wellbeing of staff working in the public sector.

Under the programme, which will be led by Spectrum Community Health CIC, on behalf of the Wakefield Health & Wellbeing Board, employees at Spectrum, Wakefield Council and Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group will be offered a free comprehensive fitness assessment and tailored individual support to help with lifestyle changes. The programme will also be extended to other member organisations of the Health & Wellbeing Board.

Lynsey Bowker, project lead for Wakefield Wellness at the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, said: “We are delighted that our programme is being rolled out so extensively across Wakefield.

“We know from our experiences with NHS organisations that this programme is an effective way of helping people to make the lifestyle changes necessary to improve their health and wellbeing.

“The evidence shows that maintaining a healthy workforce not only benefits the individual but can also result in a higher quality of services for the public. For example, NHS trusts that prioritise staff health and wellbeing have been found to perform better with improved patient satisfaction, higher levels of staff retention and local levels of sickness absence.”

Poor staff health and wellbeing costs the UK economy around £100 billion a year.

Evaluation of the Workplace Wellness programme among NHS staff showed that almost nine out of ten participants agreed that the project had a positive impact on their motivation to make changes to their lifestyle or health as a result. This included increasing physical activity (71%), improving healthy eating nutrition or diet (71%), implementing strategies for weight management (37%), introducing mental wellbeing strategies (32%), reducing alcohol intake (11%), improving back care (7%) and quitting smoking (3%).

In a second study of 277 employees from three trusts in Sheffield, Bradford and Airedale, 95% of staff reported making changes to their health or lifestyle and 98% agreed that the staff health and wellbeing programme would be a valuable workplace benefit.

The York Health Economic Consortium estimates that the return on investment is between 302 and 571 per cent.

A video has now been produced, which provides more information about the Workplace Wellness programme and explores the individual case study of Richard Clarke, a clinical skills teacher at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.

Richard has lost around four stone in weight, run a half marathon, completed a triathlon and reduced the number of migraine attacks he was suffering from after taking part in the programme.

He said: “When I started the programme, I weighed 18 stone, I was sluggish and although I still loved the outdoor life, I did not exercise as I used to when I was younger and I was regularly taking medication for my migraine.

“Now I always cycle or run the five and a half miles to work, I eat properly rather than having lots of takeaways and I’ve not had a migraine so far this year. I am so much happier and healthier, which means I have more energy to play with my young son and I’m also better focused at work. My brain is much sharper and the running and cycling helps me to switch off and relax.”

  • There are already plans to nominate the Workplace Wellness programme’s Wakefield implementation for a Sport & Physical Activity@Work award next year. This award is supported by NHS England, Benenden, the not-for-profit healthcare provider, and the Asian Sports Foundation and recognises organisations that actively take steps to improve the health and wellbeing of their workforce.Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director at NHS England, said: “The effects of low levels of physical activity can be seen day in, day out in every hospital and GP practice across the country. They constitute one of the most significant threats to the wellbeing of the nation and therefore to the sustainability of the NHS.“As collectively the largest employer in the country, the NHS family has not just an opportunity, but a responsibility to take steps to improve the health and wellbeing of our million-plus strong workforce. Supporting and encouraging staff participation in sport and physical activity is already seen as a priority for many NHS employers, and through our Health and Wellbeing programme, NHS England is keen to see this good practice spread even further.“I am therefore delighted to offer NHS England’s support for the Sport & Physical Activity @Work Awards and hope that, as part of the commitment to supporting the health and wellbeing of staff, NHS employers will get involved.”