04 / 11 / 2010
What we did and why
How we did it
Tips for other organisations
The Tees Valley Condition Management Programme (CMP) is a structured health and well-being programme from NHS Hartlepool and NHS Stockton. It helps people who claim incapacity benefit to understand their condition and improve their confidence, so that they can return to work. Tees Valley CMP is part of the Government’s Pathways to Work scheme, which is a partnership between the NHS and Tees Valley District Jobcentre Plus.
Although working hours and patterns are relatively flexible within Tees Valley CMP, staff spend a significant amount of time in their working environment. This is often demanding and can involve dealing with vulnerable people and handling distressing information. An online lifestyle assessment showed that only 18 per cent of staff were satisfied with their life. Systems were already in place to help combat this, such as regular supervision sessions, one-to-ones, staff debriefing sessions and a buddying scheme.
Despite these positive interventions, staff sickness absence had risen between April 2008 and March 2009, reaching a peak of 40 per cent.
At this level, sickness absence dramatically increased the risk to service provision and affected the frequency of appointment availability, which then began to impact on patient care.
In June 2009, NHS Tees Valley decided to introduce a programme to promote staff health and well-being and the CMP team began working with the commercial organisation, Let’s Get Healthy.
The key aims of the programme were:
• reduce current absence rates
• prevent illness
• promote health and well-being
• improve the skills level of the Tees Valley CMP team by training health and well-being champions
• develop a monthly plan of health and well-being activities that could be run within the working day
• develop a sustainable health and well-being plan that could continue without the support of Let’s Get Healthy.
The programme was designed to promote healthy eating, encourage physical activity, build resilience to stress and make small lifestyle changes.
It began with a short online lifestyle assessment, which was completed by all 20 employees in the team at that time. The results identified that:
• Stress was a major health risk among staff, which often caused other health complications such as lack of sleep, depression, anxiety and increased alcohol intake. Energy levels were low, possibly as a result of lack of sleep caused by high stress levels.
• Only 10 per cent of participants were achieving the 'five a day' fruit and vegetables target, none of the team drank a sufficient amount of healthy fluids per day and 35 per cent of participants drank over 10 units of alcohol per week.
• Average days of sickness absence per employee we 5.6 per episode.
Programme initiatives to try and tackle these issues included:
• a pedometer challenge
• lunch time walks
• posture exercises during meetings
• water bottles for staff and 'hydration challenges'
• sugar and salt awareness sessions
• alcohol awareness sessions
• relaxation techniques
• discounted complementary therapy sessions.
A group of nine Tees Valley employees were selected to become workplace health champions and attended a monthly full day training session. The training ensured that Tees Valley CMP would have a core of trained champions who were committed to improving the health and well-being of their colleagues, and who could ensure that the programme would be sustainable when Let's Get Healthy was no longer involved.
A second lifestyle assessment was completed by the participants six months after the initial one. The results showed that:
• Staff satisfaction jumped from 18 per cent to 82 per cent.
• The levels of self-declared stress decreased over the six month period of the programme, after which no member reported feeling very high stress levels.
• The pedometer scheme showed encouraging signs of increased moderate activity.
• The number of staff eating at least four portions of fruit and vegetables per day increased by 15 per cent.
• The number of participants drinking the required daily amount of healthy fluid jumped from 10 per cent to 36 per cent.
• Social alcohol intake of over 10 units per week decreased from 35 per cent to 25 per cent, and the number of staff stopping drinking entirely increased by 20 per cent.
• Average days of sickness absence dropped from 5.6 to 2.5 days per episode.
Changing behaviour for the long term is key, so personal responsibility, goal setting and positive psychology are crucial.
By investing in workplace initiates to promote health and well-being you can:
• improve the skills level of the team by training health and well-being champions
• develop a monthly plan of health and well-being activities
• develop a sustainable health and well-being plan that can continue on a stand-alone basis.