Julie Davis, deputy chief operating officer at the National Institute for Health Research, Clinical Research Network, West Midlands, tells us about the fitness platform she created to support staff wellbeing through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020, I was thinking of ways to support colleagues with their physical wellbeing. My husband, who is a personal trainer (PT), delivered free live online sessions for our staff on a weekly basis. No one knew at the time how long lockdown would last and I knew we needed something more sustainable.
When I decided to train as a PT to deliver the sessions myself, I made a call to Study Active to discuss courses. When I explained what I was trying to achieve they helped me come up with a much better idea. They brought in leading fitness industry businesses Fibodo and Active IQ to help pull the project together.
#DoingOurBit (#DOB) is a specially designed online fitness platform with over 60 free workouts for NHS staff, with new content being added all the time. Every workout has been externally verified to ensure the highest level of safety, integrity and quality. From yoga, pilates and dance fitness to seated fitness, low and high impact sessions, core training and even family fun, there is a wide range of activities, with the aim of offering something for everyone.
The #DOB campaign launched in June 2020 to the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and its 10,000 staff. The target audience is broad - we want to ensure that we stay true to the principles behind #DOB and ensure that everyone who works for the NHS has access to the platform. New trusts are still signing up and 112 are already registered, giving access to the free workouts to over 650,000 NHS staff.
We are now expanding even further to include health and social care to fit in with the changing NHS landscape. Access to activity through the platform should be available regardless of what job you do, where you live, what salary you are on and what trust employs you. Many roles in the NHS may not routinely have access to emails at work, so wouldn't necessarily hear about wellbeing initiatives through the usual channels, so we are trying to reach out through social media, local media and awards.
While born out of necessity during lockdown, #DOB was recognised for its potential to support the wellbeing of the NHS into the future. It became obvious very quickly that the concept had to scale up and the partners involved stepped up to the challenge. All of them have given up their spare time to help launch this and sustain it for free, hence the name ‘Doing Our Bit’.
There has been no funding for the platform as yet, but we know that to grow it and get it out there more we would benefit from funding for behind the scenes work as this would help us roll it out much faster.
Ultimately, #DOB is hoping to help NHS staff manage their own physical activity. The next stage is to recruit NHS employees as #DOB Energisers to either contribute more workouts to the platform or encourage colleagues to get involved.
The project has already received much recognition and has been shortlisted for several awards, recently winning one of the categories in the 2021 HPMA Awards.
The platform now includes a wellbeing hub as well as new instructors. To be able to access the new platform you will need to re-register or register by following this link. You will need an NHS registered email address, or a relevant social care address. You can also do this on the #DOB website.
For more details on #DOB's background story and the importance of improving the physical activity levels of our NHS workforce, you can watch the webcast below:
For further information and help promoting the #DOB platform in your organisation, contact email@example.com.