All Posts By

Andrea Fern

Know Your Numbers

By Uncategorized

Know Your Numbers week is here, and at Acorn, we feel it’s a brilliantly effective campaign to enable employers and employees throughout the UK to understand and appreciate the importance of being aware of their blood pressure.

During this week, you’re encouraged to get a blood pressure check and to familiarise yourself with the good, the bad and the steps you can take to improve any blood pressure issues for long-term health. 

Did you know that over six million people in the UK have high blood pressure and don’t even know it? When your heart beats, it pumps blood around your body to give it the energy and oxygen it needs. As the blood moves, it pushes against the sides of the blood vessels. The strength of this pushing is your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is too high, it puts extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. This is called high blood pressure, or hypertension. Over time it can lead to a number of health problems including heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and some forms of dementia. 

Every day 350 people have a heart attack or stroke that could have been prevented. So it’s time to wise up and know your numbers!

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) using a simple machine. When you have it measured it will be written as two numbers, a top number and a bottom number. For example, if your reading is 120/80mmHg, your blood pressure is 120 over 80. This is a healthy blood pressure reading, but what about others?

140/90mmHg or over – you may have high blood pressure: Most doctors use 140/90mmHg as the cut off for point for diagnosing high blood pressure. This is the point where your risk of serious health problems increases. You may be prescribed medications and given advice regarding changes that you can make to your lifestyle to bring your blood pressure down.

120/80mmHg up to 140/90mmHg – pre-high blood pressure: Also called high-normal blood pressure. This is not high blood pressure, but it is a little higher than it should be and means you could go on to develop high blood pressure. See how you can make healthy changes to your lifestyle to lower it.

90/60mmHg up to 120/80mmHg – ideal blood pressure: Also called normal blood pressure. Your blood pressure reading is healthy. At this level you have a much lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help you to keep your blood pressure in the healthy range.

90/60mmHg or lower – you may have low blood pressure: This usually isn’t a problem, but it can sometimes make you feel faint or dizzy or could be a sign of another health problem.

Don’t let all these numbers, facts and figures cause you too much concern though. There are simple steps you can take to make big changes to your blood pressure health. And those changes will have ever-lasting effects on your health for the long term. Getting active, keeping to a healthy weight and stopping smoking are some of the best things you can do. Eating your five a day, cutting back on salt and saturated fats and having an all-round healthy, balanced diet is also a great way to keep those numbers in the healthy range. However, if you do have further concerns and have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, there are medications that you can take to lower it.

How can Acorn help?

As a business, it’s important to help your employees be wise to their health to improve their wellbeing, fitness to work and secure your position as a compassionate and dedicated employer. Along with blood pressure, we can help give a comprehensive health check to your staff with our well-person medicals. We can carry out a number of checks whilst on site such as Cholesterol and glucose, blood pressure, pulse and BMI. These can all be performed on site with ease to give your staff the reassurance and guidance they need to take better care of their health for their personal and professional lives. 

It’s more important than ever to be aware of and help employees with their health. When you work with Acorn you can ensure you’re doing all you can to take care of your workforce and your business with simple, effective checks and advice. When you and your staff know your numbers, you can begin to take necessary and important steps to improve them for the better. Simple lifestyle changes may be all it takes and you can help your team achieve that with Acorn.

Speak with us today about our well person medical and know your numbers!

Know your Flu Facts

By News

Here in the UK, we are now over six months into coping with, dealing with and understanding Covid-19. Whilst there is still a lot to learn when it comes to the long term effects it will have throughout the globe, there are certainly some solid facts and insights that can ensure we make the right decisions in our personal and professional lives. And it is these facts that we really need to have a firm grasp on as we head towards winter. 

Winter in the UK is an incredibly testing time on our healthcare system and workplaces. Influenza is around every year (Flu Season – September to March) but in different strains , and so we endeavour to understand and control it throughout the winter season. However, now we also have Covid-19 to contend with, there are a lot more considerations to take into account.

What is the difference between Covid-19 and Influenza?

Whilst these two illnesses are both highly contagious respiratory infections, they are caused by different viruses. Covid-19 is a new strain of coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, and influenza is a different virus of its own. Influenza can be of different strains, these are predicted using data from around the world and a vaccine is produced each year to match the predicted strains. It can be rather difficult to tell the difference between Influenza and Coronavirus  as the symptoms are so similar and so testing is needed to confirm a diagnosis. 

Covid-19 SymptomsFlu Symptoms
FeverFever
CoughCough
Shortness of BreathShortness of Breath
FatigueFatigue
HeadacheStuffy Nose
Sore ThroatHeadache
Muscle and Body Aches Sore Throat
New Loss of Taste or SmellMuscle and Body Aches
Nausea or vomiting

What Else?

As you can see above, there are only a few minor symptoms to date that can differentiate the two. The Covid-19 symptoms are continually monitored and noted as time progresses and more cases are confirmed, but there are just a couple of notable differences. One of the stand out symptoms from Covid-19  has certainly been a new loss of taste or smell; as this has never been a notable symptom of flu.

Another difference is the length of time that symptoms take to appear after exposure and infection. If you are infected with flu, symptoms can take between 1-4 days to appear. However, if you develop Covid-19, symptoms typically appear 5 days after being infected, but in some cases up to 14 days later and it can vary between people. 

Avoid the confusion of viral infections. The flu vaccination is the best defence known to combat influenza and reduce associated sickness absence costs. 

Complications

In some cases, particularly those with underlying health conditions, people can experience complications which can be extreme and sometimes fatal. Both of which are incredibly serious on their own, but the risks escalate should a patient have both Covid-19 and flu at the same time. If you are suffering with one of them, your ability to cope and fight the disease of another is reduced, thus leading to more complications, inability to work and other health concerns.

Economic and Employment Risks

The country dealing with a pandemic is already highly difficult and detrimental to  all industries. It is already incredibly difficult to manage staff and keep business moving when staff and continually off sick or having to isolate, not to mention when flu season arrives and the confusion between the two begins. 

As an employer, a huge concern will be having a staff member ill with flu/covid-19 symptoms and not knowing whether or not they have contracted either virus. Unless an individual has a test, it will be extremely difficult to tell between the two. 

However, if you provide your staff with the flu vaccine, they are  more protected against the risk of contracting the Flu virus. Having this extra protection is never a guarantee, but certainly a preventative option in the season that could be detrimental to business. 

Less absence.

Less confusion.

More protection.

More confidence.

By providing staff with the 2020 flu vaccine you are showing concern for their health, giving them confidence to work and ensuring your business has done all it can to take on winter with less fear. 

How can we help?

At Acorn, we can provide your 2020/2021 flu vaccine to your staff with great service and a reliable, swift clinic of vaccinations. 

It is recommended that quadrivalent vaccines for use in the 2020 – 2021 northern hemisphere influenza season contain the following:

Egg-based Vaccines

 an A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus

an A/Hong Kong/2671/2019 (H3N2)-like virus

a B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus

a B/Phuket/3073/2013 (B/Yamagata lineage)-like virus.

Last year, the uptake of the Flu Vaccine in the UK was only between 50% – 75%. Having an effective vaccine only works when the uptake is strong. Encourage your employees to stay safe and protect themselves, their colleagues and their family this flu season. 

2020 is potentially one of the most important years to have this vaccination. Reserve yours today by ringing the team at Acorn.

Evolution to Improve Efficiency

Evolution to Improve Efficiency

By Guidance, News

New processes and changes can sometimes be difficult to implement. However; once implemented, the resulting increased efficiency from this evolution is worth the pain. More so now than at any other time, businesses are adapting to continue providing an effective service to their customers. Many aspects of our occupational health service are a mandatory requirement and therefore it was essential that  we  also adapted our own business and introduced new (and quite exciting) processes to allow us to continue to support our customers with regards to annual health surveillance and employee wellbeing support. These processes lay the pathway for further improving the efficiency of services that we provide.

What exactly have we introduced and how can it help our customers?

‘Our own purpose-built occupational health portal – Orchid’

Our newest, and arguably our most popular addition is our personalised occupational health portal that has been tailored to meet the specific requirements of Acorn’s customers.

What can it do?

  • Enables our nurses to carry out health screening remotely, including everything from pre-placements, health surveillance and fit for task medicals to sickness absence and management referrals. No matter what the future holds, we will always be able to support you and your employees.
  • It electronically sends health questionnaires to employees to be completed for online screening remotely or prior to our visit, meaning that the nurse’s day can run without a hitch
  • Saving the planet – Orchid is a paperless system, so no need to print anything.
  • Submit and track the progress of Management Referrals on your own company dashboard.
  • All reports are stored online in a centralised, secure customer dashboard.
  • Orchid gives us the ability to summarise data quickly, including review dates.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams or ‘Teams’, is something that we have been utilising for some time now. However, it really came into its full glory during the peak of lockdown restrictions.

Teams is a secure communication and collaboration platform that allows you to engage internally or externally via video, phone or online chat. You can also share your screen, send files, edit spreadsheets and make appointments in the diary. Teams has been a key player in keeping Acorn connected with our customers, and our own team whilst working from home during the pandemic. Being well connected is something that we value highly for our team and our customers.

How can Teams benefit our customers?

  • Fancy a chat? Teams allows us to hold meetings from anywhere. Over the past few months, we were able to keep in touch with our customers and hold our regular catch up meetings via video to develop plans moving forward.
  • Video consultations – also perfect for those remote Management Referral assessments where an employee will gain from seeing a friendly, professional face as they discuss any pressing issues, injuries, or return-to-work concerns. Video consultations have also proven a success for employees returning to work from shielding against Covid-19.
  • Teams is providing a central location between Acorn and our customers where we can share essential information such as the most recent health warnings, new services that we are providing, guidance from the HSE and general documentation.

Mobile unit

St Ives, Southampton, Carlisle, Ipswich, our mobile unit can travel the country. With the mobile unit having two soundproof hearing booths for audiometry testing, it is perfect for loud construction sites and sites without suitable medical rooms.

What else can our mobile unit offer?

  • It’s a Covid-19 controlled area – The unit allows us to carefully control the environment to significantly reduce the risk of cross contamination during Covid-19.
  • With two hearing booths on the unit we can carry out up to 56 hearing tests in a regular day.
  • For sites with a high requirement for audiometry testing, the unit is a more cost-effective option.

Our team

The core of Acorn Occupational Health is our team. Although our team is not a ‘process’, they are paramount in helping us to support our customers and implement the processes that we offer. Our nurses, technicians and physicians assess hundreds of people each week to help them monitor their health, identify and most importantly prevent work related illness. As well as this, they are helping businesses to function safely and continue to meet their legal obligation to health surveillance. During the pandemic, our clinical team are doing everything they can to continue to support our customers and help them to function safely. Acorn’s clinical team work tirelessly without hesitation, doing what they do best – caring.

Supporting our Nurses and Technicians on the front line is our highly experienced, knowledgeable and supportive office team. As our customers first point of contact, the office team are always on hand to provide the best advice and guidance to our customers. With ongoing training each week for both office based and clinical staff, we ensure that every part of Acorn’s team are rich with knowledge to support our customers with accurate guidance and procedures.

In an ever-changing world, it is important to reflect on what adaptations can be made to benefit your customers and your own team. Whether that be a process to help improve the wellbeing of your employees, a new software system like Teams to add to the quality of communication or new training to help improve overall customer experience. Being versatile has never been more important.

How has your business evolved recently, and how will it help your team internally and your clients?

Staying Covid-19 compliant without losing your core

Staying Covid-19 compliant without losing your core

By Coronavirus, News

Staying safe during the Covid-19 pandemic is of upmost importance, for individuals and businesses alike. As the lockdown is slowly being lifted across the UK, it is important to continue safe practice in the workplace, ensure that you as a business are staying compliant with the law and HSE guidance and are staying true to yourself as a business.

We can feel the whir of the economy igniting as industries begin production once more and we must encourage a few key things to make this succeed. Occupational health teams are here to help keep employees safe and assist companies as they introduce new measures, regulations and guidance for employees at work, and let’s face it, health at work has never been so important  

The unknown

Since the beginning of the pandemic there has been a lot of uncertainty and unknowns. The sheer severity of the virus, how quick it would spread and the effect it would have on everyone’s daily lives.  This impact has also come at a cost to our economy, with full lockdown meaning that factories, offices and self-employed people simply could not operate their business.

So now more than ever it is important to make sure that your business is working safely and correctly to the guidance that been put in place.

As a business ourselves, Acorn have changed the way we work completely. We had nurses and technicians traveling all over the country, five days a week, seeing hundreds of different people every day. These people still require their health checks to keep them safe at work; this doesn’t just stop. So in order to comply, we have changed our entire structure and have implemented a whole new online system to allow us to electronically screen individuals for their health surveillance. We have ramped up our management referral process to emphasize the support our mental health specialists can provide and also have a triage system for those returning to the workplace after illness or time off.

Acorn are ensuring that we keep all of our staff, nurses and technicians safe and healthy so that we can focus on keeping your workforce strong. In order to protect everyone, we are introducing face to face medicals for essential screenings only and at a slow pace. As the lockdown is lifted and eased over the uk, companies are at risk of rushing back into their normal practice and missing vital steps to ensure the safety of their employees.

Ultimately this is all about adaption and compliance. How can your business adapt their ways of working in order to comply with the new guidelines? This is new for us all, but having gone through it ourselves, we can help.

Top 5 tips to returning to work safely

Employees

  • Firstly, do not go to work if you are ill. Temperatures, coughs, loss of taste/smell and sickness can all be signs of Coronavirus, so ensure that you are aware of your own health and stay home if you’re ill.
  • Keep an open mind. Coronavirus is worrying for us all but having an open mind around the new procedures in the workplace, be that hand washing stations, new uniforms or split breaks – these are only put in place to keep you and your colleagues safe.
  • Stick to the government rules outside of work. We know its tempting to go to that garden party where the whole street is and we all want to go to the beach on a sunny day, but the virus is still here and very capable of spreading and affecting those that are ‘fit and healthy’ as well as the vulnerable. Look after yourself and those close to you.
  • Keep talking – ask questions at work, speak to managers if you have concerns and keep an eye on those vulnerable friends that look like they are struggling. People have their own ways of dealing with change and stressful situations and sometimes all it takes is a conversation to really help someone.
  • Enjoy your job! Most people work at a certain company or have a specific occupation as they enjoy it. Don’t let these changes effect how you feel about work and how you do your job. The heart of a business is their workforce and that needs to be beating strong to get through this pandemic successfully.

Companies

  • Ensure new guidelines in the workplace are clear and simple. Try not to over complicate things and make sure that emails, posters, training and signage is precise, clear and understandable for everyone. 
  • Organisation of the new policies and procedures that you have enforced are crucial. Guidelines from the HSE are ever developing so keeping them up to date is important.
  • Stay compliant. The HSE have released many new guidelines around Covid-19 and occupational health care. Health surveillance absolutely should not be brushed aside for 6 months and ‘forgotten about until next year’. If your company is working again, your employees health could be at risk. It has never been more important to utilise your occupational health services and see how they can help.
  • Provide extra support to employees. We have seen a huge increase of referrals specifically related to anxiety and stress around Covid-19. It’s important to offer appropriate support to those who may need it most. Speak to your occupational health providers and see what specialists they have on board that can be of assistance.
  • Don’t lose your core values. In times like these it is very easy to lose who you are as a business. Over focusing on the risk assessments and forgetting about the wellbeing of your most crucial cog in the machine. If you had coffee meets on a Friday with the team, fire them back up. Start up some creative team-building sessions like an online quiz. As for face to face meetings, can these now be done safely outdoors in your local area?

Acorn Occupational Health are following all guidelines from the government and HSE, helping you stay safe and compliant, it’s your job to keep your keep your businesses core values alive.

For more information on the services Acorn are currently offering to stay Covid-19 compliant, please get in touch.

Facilitating Staff Fitness

Facilitating Staff Fitness

By News

As employers, we want to have the most efficient and productive workforce as possible. But we also want a happy, positive and healthy workforce. The latter of course, ensures the former and promotes an uplifting and constructive place to work. When staff are able to take control of their health and wellbeing for the benefit of their personal and professional endeavours, that is truly something to embrace and encourage as an employer; not only for the emotional state of the workforce, but for the financial state of the business too. Did you know that the annual costs of sickness absence for UK businesses is estimated at around £554 per employee? This could be reduced drastically with encouraging staff to really think about their health and fitness.

How can we take that encouragement one step further? Words can only do so much in providing support to staff, and if we truly believe in the power of a healthy workforce, then we must also facilitate the change, not just encourage it.

I wrote earlier this month about the huge impact even a small amount of exercise can have on energy and stress levels, sleep, productivity and of course the whole host of physical health benefits. The more employees can embrace and immerse themselves into their favourite physical activity, the better! They’ll be happier, healthier and more energised to tackle even the busiest of workdays. However, one of the main issues with people not doing enough physical activity is just not having found their favourite one. Whether it’s cycling, running, Zumba, yoga, Pilates, HIIT, rowing, weight training, boxing, the list of ideas goes on; but having the confidence to try something new can be tough.

However, employers can facilitate that move.

A workforce is a ready-made team or class, and the workplace is a ready-made space to host, so how about…

Running Club: Start a running club for staff to join during lunch time or after work and work as a team to create short, enjoyable routes nearby.

Challenges: Offer challenges to staff such as running every morning, walking the most steps in a day or trying the most new activities in a month. Offer a prize to the winner and get the conversation about physical health buzzing around the office.

Relaxation: If you find your workforce suffer with stress and have a very active, busy work-life, start up weekly yoga classes or short meditation sessions every morning to boost energy and mental strength for their work.

Buddy-Up: Going out for a run or other exercise on your own for the first time is quite a daunting prospect. If you can offer a buddy-up scheme, it will give employees a friend to go with and a partner to work alongside to improve as they go. This makes anything new seem much less scary and a great conversation starter for anyone new joining the workforce.

These are just a few ideas you could adopt in your workplace, but the possibilities are endless. The more variety you can offer staff when it comes to ideas, the more chance you’ll have at finding something they will enjoy and continue to take part in well into the future. This will be a huge positive step towards a healthier workforce. But it goes so much further than that. If staff are able to enjoy activities beyond those within their job roles, it creates stronger bonds between them. Team-building is something that can sometimes be met with eye rolls and long sighs, but if a long-term commitment can be made to support the team in this way then relationships can thrive. And of course, the better the relationships within the team, the better the productivity and proactivity.

It’s all about finding the right balance. If your workforce is a physical one, always on their feet and in need of a good rest at the end of a day, then provide them with meditation and yoga opportunities. Brilliant for mental health and fantastic at improving posture, increasing circulation and improving strength, these activities will not only feel great but help them feel stronger and fitter for their active roles.

If your workforce spends much of their time at their desk, we need to get them moving! A sedentary role is the one that really needs help with physical activity so encourage your staff to get up every hour, move around and increase their step count. If they can take at least 250 steps an hour, it will really help reduce the pitfalls of sitting for such a huge portion of the day.

At Acorn, we’ve often provided personal trainers to head into workplaces to show staff how to look after their physical health and find the right exercises that suit their fitness levels, their lifestyle and their job. Having that kind of highly personalised solution means that they don’t need to feel put-off by hefty regimes and can reduce the risk of injury when trying something new.

And so as employers, if we care, and truly take the physical health of our staff seriously, encouraging them to take action isn’t enough. We need to BE that action and facilitate the change.

It can only offer positive results for everyone; employee and employer.

Achieve Your Full Potential

Achieve Your Full Potential…

By News

Last month I shared my passion for promoting well-balanced diets and positive attitudes towards our food and the fuel we take on board to power us through our working day. Our relationship with the food we eat can have a drastic effect on our ability to perform to the best of our abilities in the workplace. However, when combined with even a light dose of physical activity and enjoyable exercise, this effect becomes abundantly positive.

Now, we all know we are supposed to be getting our weekly exercise don’t we. It’s recommended we do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week. This is easier said than done though. If we are spending the majority of our day at work, finding the energy to exercise before or after becomes something of an irritating angel on our shoulder crying out for attention when all we want to do is put our feet up for a box-set binge. However, although those figures are the recommended levels of activity we should be doing, any physical activity is better than none, and we have to start somewhere.

It’s all about breaking the cycle. Exercise, whilst requires energy to do, boosts your energy levels further. Feeling lazy and just want to curl up for a nap? Find that strength to get up and do some physical activity. You’ll be amazed at how awake you feel afterwards. It can somewhat feel like we are stuck in a catch-22 situation when we don’t have the energy to do it in the first place, but if that cycle can be broken, then a whole world of benefits opens up for us both personally and professionally; and it’s all thanks to those endorphins. Mentally, we feel more energized and ready to tackle the world after a good workout because endorphins have boosted our physical energy level. So, need a way to banish those sluggish feelings before starting work? Then set that alarm a little earlier and do a mini workout in your front room!

And right now, it’s safe to say everybody’s front room has become something of a mini gym. With gyms and health clubs closed during the pandemic, people have sought a different way to get their fix of exercise. Taking part in online video classes, a movement that has taken place in the last couple of weeks, has seen the UK feel the benefits of physical activity from wherever they are. Not only has it enabled us to burn those calories if we are stuck in the house all day, but it has given us a positive focus and mental boost to try something new, see results and be part of something outside of our bubble. Being at home all day every day can take its toll on our mental and physical health, and even just 10 minutes of yoga or a 20 minute HIIT session in the front room can trigger those endorphins, get that blood flowing, the sweat dripping and that feel-good factor we all need right now.

But, whether you have become a fitness-fix-fanatic over the last couple of months, or you’re sceptical about trying something new, how can you be sure it’s sustainable once the ‘new-normal’ of life resumes? It’s all about finding something you really love. There are so many different classes, exercises and sports you can try, so it’s just about finding the right one for you. You don’t want your daily or weekly exercise to become a chore, you want it to becomes a hobby you carve time out of your day for. If you love something enough, you will find the time to do it. Love dancing? Try Zumba! Want to work up a sweat? Try high intensity interval training. Want to boost your strength and flexibility? Try Pilates. Want to get out of the house? Then try the ‘Couch to 5K’ which will give you all the training schedules and advice you need to run your first 5k from no previous running experience. All of these things need not take up a whole chunk of your day, and the benefits they will have on your physical and mental health will make every second worth it.

When you’ve started your day with a workout, you’ll be refreshed, energised, your mood will be boosted, your mind will be refreshed, and you can finish your day knowing your daily workout has already been done! It really is a positive step towards greater mental health, as well as the obvious physical benefits such as burning calories, improving musculoskeletal health, weight loss and posture improvements. All of which provide great benefits to life both professionally and personally.

You can even turn it into a more sociable part of your life too by jogging with friends or taking part in challenges together. Who can do the most steps in a week? Who can perfect that tricky yoga pose with ease? If running is your thing, you could download the FREE fitness app Strava too. This way you can track your mileage, break your own records and the records of others and share with friends and family your goals and achievements.

So, what will your new fitness passion be? Find something you love, and you’ll be guaranteed to make time to do it.

Resources for Responsibility

Resources for Responsibility

By News

As employers, it can sometimes feel very difficult to appreciate and fully understand how we can help our employees perform to the best of their ability. We can advise them and attempt to guide them with ideas and inspiration, but is that really enough?

We want all of our employees to make sure they are enjoying enough good quality sleep every night. We want them to exercise to keep their physical health in tip top shape. We want them to eat well and enjoy some much deserved down-time to boost their mental health. We can advise them in all of these areas, and hope they heed the advice to reap the rewards, but are we taking our responsibility towards our staff if all we do is ‘hope’? I think, as employers, it is our duty to take that care for our staff one step further and not only educate them in the benefits of taking care of their physical and mental health, but also to facilitate it to the best of our ability too. If we truly appreciate the hard work and dedication our staff put into their roles, within our company, then we need to acknowledge this in physical and useful ways. This will not only benefit the efficiency of the company itself but have a life-changing and uplifting impact on the professional and personal lives of those staff we count on.

As a longstanding provider of Occupational Health services, the team at Acorn and I firmly believe in taking our responsibility for the health of staff seriously, and we are dedicated to making this happen. If an employer truly cares about the mental and physical wellbeing of staff, they will do much more than advise, they will DO.

But in order to provide the right solution to staff for changing their lifestyle or boosting their health, you need to know where they stand right now. After all, how can you offer sound solutions and finish-line goals without a starting block?

One of our services that has proven incredibly popular, educational and useful to our clients is the Well Persons Medical. This is a comprehensive medical assessment offering advice about lifestyle, diet and fitness, cholesterol checks and a full health review. Employees are not only reassured that they are in good health, but they are also given indications as to early actions they can take to prevent ill-health. The medical covers blood pressure, pulse, urine, cholesterol, weight and musculoskeletal assessments. Once these assessments have taken place, we are than able to provide comprehensive analysis and action points to tackle issues, improve health or present future issues arising.

Potential interventions and solutions that may come out of a Well Persons Medical may include:

  • Physiotherapy sessions
  • Stress management (customised sessions)
  • Stress advice and management to include mindfulness
  • Hydration (water bottle distribution idea)
  • Nutrition, best use of facilities, education, 10 min food prep etc – our chef can intervene
  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Fruit
  • Walking/ running groups
  • Smoking cessation
  • Health promotion days looking at diet, exercise, sunscreen, drug and alcohol, well woman, well man, seasonal allergies, sexual health.

We can complete up to 14 Well Persons Medical in a day. These are thorough medicals and result in concrete action plans that show that you take your commitment to the care of your staff seriously.

Earlier this month, I wrote about the importance of healthy eating, not just as employers but as an employee too. Having a varied and healthy diet has so many benefits. Whilst it can sometimes feel very difficult to achieve, particularly if you work long shifts and struggle for the energy to craft nutritious meals, it is highly important. So, if we as employers KNOW having a healthy diet is beneficial for staff health and performance, we need to take action to ensure that takes place.

Again, it’s all about responsibility and resources. If we take that responsibility seriously, we need to provide resources to facilitate it.

Provide staff with meal plan ideas, start a recipe sharing group, provide water bottles and hydration stations. Whatever you feel you can do for employees to take solid and concrete action is the best way to take that responsibility seriously.

Get in touch with our team today to find out more about our Well Persons Medical, or learn more about how else we can help you take action towards your commitment to staff health with health surveillance, health screening, health ergonomics, stress management and more.

Healthy Eating for Work and Wellness

By Awareness, Guidance, News

When someone says the words “healthy eating” it is so easy to conjure up images of gloopy grey shakes and bowls piled high with wilted shades of green; not exactly thrilling. We all know that eating healthy has so many benefits, but making that commitment is easier said than done, right?

But, what if adopting even the simplest, cheapest and tastiest changes to your diet could develop life-changing results?

We’re not talking about body image or weight here; we’re talking about your mental health. We are talking about your energy levels and your ability to not only cope at work but thrive.

I, like so many of us have a love/hate relationship with food. It is so easy to delve into a delicious takeaway or get carried away with the sweet treats during a movie night. But when I do tuck into a plate bursting with vibrancy and freshness, it sets something alight. That’s because healthy eating doesn’t just benefit your body, it benefits your mind, too. You may not notice the results right away, but after a few days you’ll realise the better you eat, the better your mood, the better your memory and the more energy you have with less moments of fatigue.

All of these benefits make such a difference in the workplace. Being able to complete tasks with ease, and not be counting down the hours ‘til your head can hit the pillow is a huge relief. Bye bye snooze button, and hello morning smoothie! In addition, suddenly life becomes less ‘eat, sleep, work, repeat’, and you begin to seek more interesting ways to make the most of the time you have outside of work too. If you’ve always been intrigued by a sport or fancy learning a new instrument, try some brilliant healthy brain foods like fish, nuts, berries and wholegrains. Get that brain buzzing for work AND play!

As an employer, we have a great role to play in the importance of healthy eating for the workplace too. Seeing employees in higher spirits, bursting to get the job done with efficiency and energy is inspiring. When the workforce eats well, they perform well, but this isn’t just about promoting the benefits of healthy eating for the good of the firm. It’s about each and every mental health state of each employee within the company. As employers, we can offer ideas, solutions, tips and advice to staff on energy-boosting, hunger quashing snacks to get them through a long shift, or simple, cost-effective meal plans and prepping to keep them organised and energised throughout the week. Healthy eating certainly requires more thought than reaching for those unhealthy options, but with good organisation and a positive attitude, it can become second nature. And it’s our job to help our employees achieve this. After all, they spend so much of their time at work, so we have a duty to make sure they are fuelled and fulfilled to the best of their ability.

Personally, my quick go-to lunches include a salad with all the healthy goodies that I can find; Nuts, fish, vegetables, some feta cheese and dressing! It’s super cheap, fast and filling. Salad isn’t for everyone though, and it’s not the be-all and end-all of a healthy diet, so if it’s not for you, try couscous, eggs or crunchy carrots and cucumber batons with dip. Or if you’re in need of something more wholesome to get you through a long shift, be sure to separate a portion of your evening meal off the night before to take with you the next day. Sometimes, there’s something so wholesome and warming about the leftovers from the night before, isn’t there? And, don’t forget to start your day the right way! If you don’t have time to whip up some eggs and avocado on toast, then throw a vibrant mix of fruits and berries into a blender and whip up a smoothie to enjoy during your commute. Many supermarkets now stock frozen smoothie mixes which are incredibly easy to use, and mean your smoothie stays colder and fresher for longer – Perfect during these summer months!

Check out some of the links below to recipes we love to get us inspired and fill our intake with goodness!

Want super tasty breakfast smoothies? Try https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/healthy/g4060/healthy-smoothie-recipes/

Want a lunch you’ll really love? Check out https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/lunchbox

Need to combat that long shift fatigue? Then read more about The Energy ‘Diet’ from the NHS here… https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/the-energy-diet/

Need dinner recipes that won’t take all our precious evening creating? https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/quick-and-healthy

I think one of the biggest hurdles many people face when considering a change of course to a healthier lifestyle with their food is too much focus is on the benefits to our body. Of course, eating healthy has endless benefits to our physical health, and during these times, the more we can do to keep in better physical health the better (being physically healthier helps ward off illness and fight disease for instance). But, if more of a focus was put on why it’s so good for our mental health it would be easier to appreciate. With the mental health benefits, the results are felt, rather than seen, so if offers an emotional connection. And during these uncertain times, a warming embrace and comforting control over our emotions can only be welcomed.

And if we can eat food that makes us FEEL good, not just LOOK good, that’s got to be worth a try, right?

Coronavirus – Don’t isolate your mental health

Coronavirus – Don’t isolate your mental health

By Coronavirus, Mental Health, News

Over the past few weeks it is safe to say that the majority of us have had to adapt to a new ‘norm’. Whether you work in production, administration, healthcare, or public services, everyone is having to adjust their way of working due to the Coronavirus, including occupational health providers.

We have received many requests from employers, regarding their employee’s mental health and fitness to work. Employers are asking what they should be doing to protect their workforce and ensure that their business survives these uncertain times, as well as offering advice to their employees of what they can do to take care of themselves at home…

Look after yourself

If you are working from home, self-isolating or furloughed, you still need to make sure that your time and workspace are manageable and comfortable. This doesn’t just stop at the comfort of your chair; it also relates to your personal wellbeing and mental health. Taking time for yourself during this pandemic is incredibly important and can help to protect your mental wellbeing.

Working from home

Although it can be tempting to sit in your comfy clothes with your laptop on your knee, it is necessary to keep some sort of routine. Where possible, try to have a dedicated ‘work area’. Set an alarm, shower, get dressed and be ready for your day as normal. It’s amazing what a difference getting dressed for work makes, even if you’re working in your spare room.

No work commutes mean that there may be time for some mediation or relaxing stretches in the morning. Check out a quick 10 minute yoga video if you can – A fantastic combination of physical and mental exercise. You have the luxury of being able to take your coffee break in the garden and indulge in that book you have never quite had time to read.

Working from home can be challenging enough trying to set boundaries and create a new norm, but being at home 24/7 can also cause severe social isolation which can be detrimental to many people, whether they have any underlying mental health issues or not. That is why it is so important to stay connected to friends, family and work colleagues as much as you can.

There are lots of positive things that can come from this pandemic and it can really make us appreciate the smaller things that life offers, but to do this, we need to be healthy both physically and mentally.

What can employers do to help?

As an employer, you have a duty of care to your workforce, but it can be difficult to control if you have employee’s working from home, furloughed and high risk / potentially infected team members. Everyone is dealing with their own levels of stress and worry, as well as businesses trying to stay afloat and keep the paddles turning.

However, there are a few easy ways in which you can support your business and employees right now:

Stay in touch – Staying in contact via a group email is enough, but why not call your employees and check in with them? Isolation can be tough on everyone, particularly if you have a mental health impairment. Just a simple phone call can be enough to lift spirits, and make your employees know you care about their wellbeing.

Signpost to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) – If you have an EAP in place, ensure that everyone knows the benefits of this system and encourage the full use of it. This could be a crucial lifeline to those in isolation.

Lean on occupational health resources – Acorn are offering a variety of services to help vulnerable employees through this testing time.

– Mental Health Support – Telephone consultations with a nurse or mental health first aider for employees that may be struggling with their mental health and require professional advice.

– COVID-19 Triage Calls – We are assisting HR to manage vulnerable and high-risk employees, providing guidance relating to social distancing, shielding and protection of others.

– Management Referrals – A 60-minute telephone assessment with a nurse to assist both employees and employers with a return to work following absence.

– Electronic Paper Screening via Orchid – Acorn are delivering all of their health surveillance via quick and easy electronic screening to guarantee that social distancing measures are met, but to also ensure employers are continually meeting their legal requirements with regards to health surveillance and not falling behind. This does not involve any movement of paper, just a quick click to send an email questionnaire to an employee.

Support from work

We have never seen our country in a ‘lockdown’ position and everyone is learning to adapt, including employers from all types of businesses.

Although there are uncertain times ahead for many industries, it is worth spending time and thinking about what is important to your company? How will you kick start again after this pandemic? Well, your employees are going to be a huge part of this, which is why they need to be supported, more so now than ever.

Guiding your workers, staying in contact and keeping them informed on changes is incredibly important. Particularly if you know someone is vulnerable or has had previous mental ill-health.

When this is all over, you want your staff to return to the workplace feeling positive and excited for the tasks ahead.

Employers have a duty of care to their employees and there is plenty that you can do to support vulnerable workers whilst away from the workplace. If you need more information regarding the services that Acorn offer, call us on 01260 277797.

Stay safe.

3 Words

3 Simple Words

By Mental Health, News

How are you? Want to talk? Can I help? Need a friend? Are you OK? I’m always here…

Sometimes it is 3 simple words, said with meaning, that can really help transform someone’s thoughts and feelings for the better. They are often said in passing, but how often do you feel a person really means what they say?

During uncertain times, it is more important than ever before to spend time connecting with those who may be struggling under the surface, whether that be friends, family, work colleagues or employees. If you are feeling vulnerable or lonely, reach out to those who care. There are many ways that you can connect.

Keep in touch digitally

  • Make plans to video chat with those you would normally see in person.
  • Arrange phone calls or send texts.
  • If you’re worried that you might run out of topics to talk about, make a plan with someone to watch a show together or have one ready to chat about once it’s finished.
  • While you can’t meet in person, you could check social media to get up to speed with what people are up to and send a message.

Connect with others in similar situations

  • If you are feeling anxious about Coronavirus or having to stay at home more than usual, you may find it helpful to talk these worries through with someone you trust, especially if they are in a similar situation. 
  • The charity ‘Mind’ runs an online peer support community called Elefriends where you can share your experiences and hear from others. This may help your confidence when speaking to others.
  • If your home feels too quiet, put the radio on! Radio is a fantastic companion to turn to when you need a friendly voice.
  • Speak to work colleagues who may have been furloughed or are working from home to see how they are coping with the change.
  • It’s not always vulnerable people that suffer with their mental health at times of distress, it can affect us all, at any time. This is why it is important to stay connected and always think about those 3 simple words, and the positive impact they may have.

Employer Support

There are many ways in which you can support an employee’s mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, that too involves communication and keeping in touch with employees.

Occupational health consistently offers support for an employee’s mental health even if they’re furloughed or working from home. Acorn have mental health first aiders who are conducting telephone calls, nurses completing video referrals and a whole team of advisors willing to point you in the right direction and offer the correct support to your employees when they need it most.

3 simple words – We support you. Lean on us. We are here. Our nurses care. Call the team.

Mental Health Awareness Week 18th – 24th May

#SpeakYourMind