A Public Health Agency (PHA) workplace health and wellbeing service delivered by NI Chest Heart and Stroke, which has been supporting workers throughout the coronavirus pandemic, has been officially launched by the Health Minister Robin Swann.
Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS) has been contracted to provide the service in the Belfast, Northern, Southern and South Eastern Trust areas, while Developing Healthy Communities (DHC) will be delivering the service in the Western Trust. The organisations will be working with 250 businesses each year from throughout Northern Ireland to deliver the free service, funded by the PHA.
‘Work Well Live Well’ initially began on 1 March 2020 in order to support businesses to improve the health, safety and wellbeing of employees within the workplace. However, with the beginning of lockdown and most businesses requiring employees to work from home, the service adapted to meet the new and diverse needs of these organisations.
Supporting the initiative Health Minister Robin Swann said: “With changing work patterns, Work Well Live Well has been vital in working alongside businesses to help ensure a focus on the wellbeing of workers. The pandemic has been a difficult time for us all and the support that this programme has been offering has helped those in greatest need, with support targeted towards those businesses with employees at particular risk of poor physical health and emotional wellbeing, such as sedentary, low paid, migrant or other vulnerable population groups.
“Work Well Live Well is not just a service for the pandemic, but will provide vital long-term provision for the improvement of the wellbeing of our society in recovering from this crisis and beyond.”
As part of the scheme businesses are asked to seek ways of engaging with their employees to assess their current health and wellbeing needs.
Janet Calvert, the PHA’s Workplace Health Lead, said: “There has never been a more important time to be engaging with employees and supporting their health and wellbeing needs.
“We know that people’s chances of leading long and healthy lives are largely affected by the social, economic and environmental circumstances of their daily lives – and there is a clear link between work and the health of individuals and their families.
“A good working environment, where people are protected and valued, has the potential to increase wellbeing, and effective workplace health programmes can make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of employees, businesses and the communities in which people live and work.
“The support provided includes training and support for Workplace Health Champions, delivery of health information, and undertaking meaningful employee engagement.
“A workplace where the employee’s health and wellbeing is considered a priority can only lead to an increase in productivity, a reduction in sick days and to the promotion of positive relationships between employers and employees.”
Support for mental wellbeing will be of particular importance and businesses who are part of the initiative must commit to signing up to the Equality Commission Mental Health Charter and to Mental Health First Aid Training, in line with the Protect Life 2 Action plan.