From steps at lunchtime to the NHS Games – and beyond!

Amanda Rivers is a QA Administrator in Liverpool. As we reveal the results of last year’s Healthy Workplace survey, she blogs about the activities that she has set up in Speke, Liverpool.

My name is Mandi and I started working for NHS Blood and Transplant in October 2016. While I have always invested in my health and wellbeing, I’ve never been a fitness fanatic. But I know I feel good when I exercise, I am happy when I am trying new things and I enjoy connecting with people. The first thing I noticed at the Speke centre was how friendly, supportive and sociable everybody was. Staff seemed to have lots of wellbeing ideas and there was definitely an appetite for doing ‘something’ but there was nobody to take things forward. The general views were “They wouldn’t let us do that”, “There is no way that would work”,We have tried that before and nobody was interested”. But as it turned out this couldn’t have been further from the truth.

I began by emailing HR to ask about promoting a ‘steps at lunchtime’ activity and this was welcomed, so we got started! We simply met at 12pm and walked between 2000 and 3000 steps. It was a great way for staff from different departments to get to know each other and it encouraged people to get away from their work stations and enjoy some fresh air at lunchtime. This led to us launching a Couch to 5K challenge, the running programme for beginners. After a few enquiries, Liverpool City Council sent a trained run-leader to Speke to take a group of staff out on regular runs for eight weeks. This was completely free of charge. Eight staff signed up, of which six had not run since school. Once the programme was complete, the council agreed funding for two members of staff to train as run leaders with England Athletics so we could lead our own run group and train other members of staff on the Couch to 5K programme.

The council then put me in touch with a regional NHS Health and Wellbeing Network where I got to meet lots of like-minded people and was introduced to the NHS North West Games. This is something NHSBT had never participated in before. The £300 entry cost included unlimited staff registration, a medal for everyone who participated and a family fun day, plus all winners would receive a trophy. The communications team helped to design material for the games and promoted it on the intranet. Senior managers warmly welcomed my health and wellbeing updates at the LSG meeting and cascaded the information to their individual teams. The games consisted of a 5K race, rounders, football, netball and golf. The interest and excitement among staff was contagious and the hard work paid off, with more than 60 staff participating. We took home trophies too, with NHSBT competitors winning second place at both golf and the 5k race. Everyone who took part was asked to complete an evaluation and all suggestions for improvements for future games are discussed quarterly at regional NHS Health and Wellbeing Networks.

Since the games we have been able to bring more exciting health and wellbeing opportunities to staff in Speke. These have included free taster sessions in diversity and mindfulness from local charities, and an invitation from the army for a team of five staff to join an NHS challenge to complete 15 mental and physical challenges in five hours. The team got to do amazing things like abseiling down a hospital, and the feedback was excellent.

Things continue to go from strength to strength in 2018. We have reignited 3000 steps at lunchtime and launched weekly free guided meditation sessions. As a centre, our plan for this year consists of continuing to grow our run club, developing our football team, winning the golf challenge, carrying on with guided meditation and getting ready to participate in 2018 NHS North West Games. I’m excited that we will soon be able to measure the impact of health and wellbeing at Speke with a Kiosk and Your Voice survey.

Another big activity in the pipeline is a virtual 5K run open to all colleagues across the country. Everyone who participates will receive a health and wellbeing t-shirt which has been designed by staff.

Work life balance is important to me. I spend so much time at work and I want that time to be happy. Good mental health and physical health makes me a nicer person. I am more productive, approachable and focused. And keeping fit doesn’t have to cost money. In fact, out of the five weekly activities available to staff at Speke there is only one that comes with a cost, and that’s the hire of a football pitch.

I think the message from me is give it a go, try things you may not have even thought about before, never assume the answer is going to be no and always promote health and wellbeing to new staff. It’s a great way to help them settle in and feel connected.

If you would like to find out how you can be part of promoting a healthy workplace, please email HR.

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    Inpsirational Mandi. Would be great if your fantastic work in getting the ball rolling at Liverpool could be replicated at other sites.

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    Thank you for sharing this Mandi and highlighting to everyone all the great work you have started in Liverpool.

    I hope this encourages other areas around NHSBT to get involved in the Health and Wellbeing agenda.

    It really is as easy as find out what colleagues in your centre or team want or are interested in trying and then, with agreement from your centre partnership committee, either setting up a group yourself or finding somebody local to deliver it.

    If anyone is interested in doing something similar themselves, please get in touch with me or Mandi and we can help point you in the right direction.

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    Well done Mandi, this is great and it makes me want to move to Liverpool.
    How can we get our other centres to follow your lead (or to tell us what they are already doing?)

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      Hi Steven,

      I would start with an email to Ellen Betts to see if anyone leads on Health and Wellbeing at your centre, if they do I would get in touch asking what the current initiatives are and if you can get involved. There is a lot of scope with Health and Wellbeing and the more people involved the greater the impact.

      If there is nobody currently leading on Health and Wellbeing I would ask if you can attend the next centre LSG to talk about it. Before attending the LSG I would suggest putting a survey monkey together with Health and Wellbeing options and ask the head of centre PA to circulate so you can discuss the results and plan what you are going to try and do first.

      I am happy to idea storm to help get started.

      Good luck.

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