EUROPEAN PAPERS ON THE NEW WELFARE

The Long Term Costs of Lifestyle Risks. Pathways to Change: A Case Study in the UK

Royal Mail

The Royal Mail Corporate Responsibility website states: “Providing good health support and benefits to our people is one way we communicate to them that they’re appreciated. It helps us attract and retain excellent people and keep them healthy at work, which also helps us maintain the highest levels of service for our customers.”

Royal Mail provides healthy working environments by providing a comprehensive occupational health screening service to all their employees. Also, a telephone contact centre is available 24 hours a day every day of the year for health-related advice and for arranging health services for workers and their families confidentially at the point of need. Health clinics can be found in more than 90 Royal Mail Group sites across the country, which offer advice on health to help workers return to work successfully after illness or injury and to make sure they are not at risk of getting unwell at work. The Royal Mail also has fitness centres run by trained instructors where a range of fitness and nutritional programmes are provided. Workers returning to work after illness or injury benefit from a national physiotherapy and occupational therapy service.

The Royal Mail has also created alliances with health organisations to ensure the care they are providing is of a good standard. These include: the British Occupational Health Research Fund, the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, the Men’s Health Forum, Institute of Cancer Research and Scottish Health at Work. Over the next twelve months the company plans a number of new promotions on stopping smoking, managing and reducing stress, increasing fitness and improving nutrition. As part of this initiative since September 2006 they have been running a Health Bus which visits various sites across the country promoting well-being.

To underpin this strategy there are a number of other activities which they are undertaking such as developing a risk assessment manual for health and safety to include occupational health hazards in addition to developing a cost benefit model to identify potential opportunities to save health costs and promote employee productivity.

In Scotland they are awaiting confirmation for funding from the Scottish NHS to research workplace rehabilitation and undertake a pilot project at one of their mail centres and they are planning extension of rehabilitation to South Yorkshire and West Midlands.

The employee assistance service providing 24/7 access for their people and their dependants to information, counselling and advice on a range of personal and legal matters is to be further extended and pilots for remedial exercise treatment for chronic stress cases implemented.

Reviewing and enhancing policies and standards to promote the employment of older people as the normal retirement age is moved forwards from age 60 to 65 are also in the works as is support for medical research studies including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy as a workplace intervention for stress and research into any relationship between obesity and work.

By enhancing access to occupational health services, shortening the referral time period from 21 days post-absence to 14 days and referring those with stress or musculoskeletal problems on the first day of absence, Royal Mail has managed to get on average 1000 more people at work every day (CIPD, 2005).

Siemens Financial Services

Siemens Financial Services has partnered with roadtohealth, a leading international health and lifestyle organisation, to bring all employees a free, confidential one-to-one health screen designed to provide a profile of your health with recommendations.

During October 2007 roadtohealth conducted free one-to-one confidential health assessments (25 minutes long) for all employees that wanted one. There was a very high level of take up at 65%, and 90% of employees were either delighted or very delighted with the service they received and all requested a follow up within a year. As a result the scheme will be run again in October 2008.

The 25-minute health assessment involves height and weight measurements as well as Body Mass Index calculation to assess if you are within “safe” range.

Testing blood pressure to determine potential health risks, blood profiling which includes total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) level and glucose testing to screen for diabetes are all made available. Further, questions about your exercise and lifestyle habits including alcohol consumption, smoking and brief medical and family history are asked to highlight any potential causes for concern. One to one consultation with advice on any health and lifestyle changes needed are given and each person gets a roadtohealth Q position – the closer to 100 the healthier they are, and they are each given an individual report and action plan.

The effect of various “what if” scenarios on future risk are also assessed as well as a discussion around setting “healthy” targets and an individual action plan to help achieve health aspirations. The risk of developing a heart condition such as coronary or cardiovascular disease is screened using computer technology as is the possibility of stroke. Participants also have access to an optional personal online health coach to provide highly targeted health advice, a printed report with results, agreed action targets and action plan with advice sheets.


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