Food Champion Application: Improving community diet and nutrition
Rose Melvin talks about Rushcliffe's 'Waist Management' programme which worked with the council's depot staff over a six week period and aimed to improve all aspects of health.
The workplace is a great place to promote healthy lifestyles and change people’s behaviour - as over half of the UK population work and people can spend up to 60% of their waking hours in their workplace. A quarter of the UK population smoke, one fifth are obese and one fifth report suffering from stress at work. The White Paper, Choosing Health (2004), stresses the importance of promoting healthy lifestyles at work.
For many people, the work environment limits their health choices and makes it difficult to be healthy. However, many employers recognise the benefits of making their employees healthier – they are displaying corporate social responsibility and it also makes good business sense. A motivated, healthy workforce is more likely to perform well. Employers and employees benefit through improved morale, reduced absenteeism, increased retention and improved productivity.
As an excellent employer, Rushcliffe Borough Council cares about its staff’s health. A fit and healthy employee is vital to deliver great services and we want staff to have a great quality of life at work and outside work too.
Our ‘waist management’ programme targeted our 100 manual staff such as bin men, street sweepers, gardeners and litter pickers to make them fitter and improve their quality of life. In January 2009, we teamed up with leading health partners to deliver a 6-week course for our workforce. Each week had a different theme and health message that was relevent to the workforce. Our vision was that Rushcliffe could develop a work culture that protects, promotes and supports the health and well-being of all employees. The project fully complements the public health strategy ‘Investing in People’ – which identifies workplaces as a priority setting for improving the health of employees.
Aims and Objectives
- To improve the health and well-being of employees
- Reduce short term absenteeism - via innovative triage service
- Promoting physical activity through providing pedometers
- Promote and deliver the New Leaf stop smoking programme
- Provide the opportunity for employees to participate in a ‘Waist Management’ programme
- Encourage re-hydration at work by getting staff to drink more water
- Raise awareness about: Diabetes; Cholesterol; BMI; Prostate/testicular and other cancers
It is clear that there is an expectation that the Government and the public sector should be leading by example. The emphasis is on prevention rather than intervention. The belief is that a motivated, healthy workforce is more likely to perform well.
- Nottinghamshire NHS County
- New Leaf
- Locality Choosing Health Fund
- County Dietetic Services
- Parkwood Leisure Services
- Heart FM
- Radcliffe Chiropractic Clinic
- Notts East Midlands Medical Service (NEMS) (provide out of hours GP services)
- Principia Partners in health (social enterprise of Rushcliffe GPs)
- Rushcliffe Borough Council - staff and trade unions
This programme was led and endorsed by our chief executive Allen Graham who launched the programme to all staff.
A pre-programme letter was sent out to staff in December with a copy of the Haynes Men’s Health Manual. In January 2009, all employees were invited to a ‘breakfast meeting’ where the Waist Management programme was launched by Allen Graham. Everyone also received a goody bag that contained health literature, a BMI tape measure and a 2009 prostate awareness calendar.
The six week programme was split as follows:
- Week 1 ‘Hazardous Waist’ The Council launched a 10-week free gym membership programme and signed people up to stop smoking sessions.
- Week 2 - Back to it – advice on how to avoid bad backs and refresher training on manual handling
- Week 3 - Water good idea – a 750ml corporate designed water bottle and literature was produce to encourage people to drink water while working
- Week 4 - Step on it challenge – staff had pedometers and measured how many steps they took each day
- Week 5 – Know your numbers – advice on how many portions of fruit and veg to eat, how much exercise each week to stay healthy, blood pressure checks, body fat, BMI and alcohol intake. Introduction of the innovative triage programme – staff are given a new telephone number to record absenteeism and now phone and report their reason for sickness to NEMS (Notts Emergency Medical Service) who give them medical advice.
- Week 6 - You’ve cracked it – a celebration event with Heart FM. The event featured lunch, awards and certificates given out – for who had kicked the habit, who was the biggest loser (weight) and there was a health market where staff could get additional information on oral health, coping with stress etc
- Fruity Friday – every Friday free fruit was available to all staff
Staff ring a dedicated line operated by NEMS to report that they are sick. NEMS healthcare professionals take the caller through a triage service to find out what’s wrong and to identify any serious health issues. This early interaction, particularly when linked with a clinical triage, has been reported to be most effective in reducing the incidence of short term sickness in the 1-4 day absence categories. NEMS provide the Out of Hours service for approximately 685,000 residents in the Notts.
Details of the absence are then passed immediately to Rushcliffe line managers to allow resource decisions to be made. Results from the 6 month pilot were very encouraging and, as a result, the Council adopted this system for use at the Depot .
- 19% overall reduction in working days lost due to sickness
- 56% reduction in one day sickness absences
- 32%.reduction in working days lost due to sickness absences of between one and four days
In addition to triage, NEMS also included an assessment of the Bradford Formula for each of the 101 staff at the Depot. The Bradford Formula provides a quantified representation of a staff members’ sickness record. Many organisations use this formula for assessing staff sickness performance and managers are updated with the current position with respect to their staff at regular intervals.
The Council is also using the NEMS home visiting service, for example, to collect samples for analysis from staff who contact the sickness line with conditions such as diarrhoea and vomiting.
Haynes health manual, goody bags, posters and flyers each week, water bottle for all staff, pedometers for all staff, staff time
The triage system
The cost of implementing the system is about £5 per staff member per month and a home visit is £25. In 2008/09, manual staff (eg bin men, grounds maintenance etc) had 1,337 days of sickness absence which cost £77,546 to cover through agency staff. 763 were attributable to short term sickness (i.e. 1 – 4) therefore the triage scheme could have reduced this by 32% to 508 days reducing the cost to £51,697 thus paying for itself.
Staff have welcomed this approach to sickness reporting, as they can now get professional medical help very quickly and out of hours.
Evaluation & Outcomes
Evaluation was via Pre and post questionnaires.
- Sixteen employees signed up to the Waist Management programme
- Six employees quit smoking.
- 100% of attendees feel a valued employee
- Reducing short term absenteeism - when comparing Jan to March 2008 data to Jan to March 2009 data there is clearly a reduction in number of days absent. The pilot programme has been extended to July 2009 to provide more in depth data
The programme leader went off with an emergency appendectomy – a good job she had a brilliant assistant who could step into the breach. Use plain English. Reward good behaviour and celebrate success. An enthusiastic chief executive made the programme work very well – leading by example.
Seek funding to continue with Fruity Fridays, five-a-side football activity and market stalls on men’s health issues such as prostate and colonic cancer.
Contact Name: Rose Melvin
Job Title: Health Development Officer
Phone: 0115 9148233
Organisation: Rushcliffe District Council
Address: Civic Centre. Pavilion Rd, West Bridgford, Nottingham. NG2 5FE
Case study added 15 July 2009 and updated 4 February 2010