Category

Awareness

Take Action this Stress Awareness Week

By Awareness, News

During International Stress Awareness Week, it’s our job as employers to appreciate what may be causing our employees stress and how that can affect their personal wellbeing and professional performance. And more importantly, do we understand how to eliminate it for the good of the employees and our business?

Stress Awareness Week is all about putting health, happiness and wellbeing into the heart of business. But what does stress awareness mean to you, as an employer?

Causes:

Stress can come from various aspects of our lives but quite often, it actually comes from a number of places at one time and things get overwhelming. It can become an unhealthy state of body and mind and understanding the triggers which cause stress is the first step to eliminating it.

According to ISMA, 602,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2018/2019. Fast forward to 2020 and all the challenges we’ve all had to face this year, this is set to increase. Struggling to cope with the workload, changes at work and a lack of support rank high in the reasons for workplace stress. Those working in public administration and defence, human health and social work activities and education are said to be some of the industries with the highest rates of stress, depression or anxiety.

Effects:

We often think of stress as being a mental health issue, but it may be surprising to learn that stress can also have a huge effect on our physical health too! Here’s some examples of how stress affects your body. If you notice any of these signs in your employees, it’s time to talk, take action and help them on a road to a happier, healthier life.

Physical effects:

  • Aches, pains and muscle tension
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Extreme weight loss or gain
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Cold or sweaty hands and feet
  • Menstrual changes or loss of libido
  • High blood pressure

Emotional and Psychological effects:

  • Tearful
  • Mood swings
  • Angry and frustrated
  • Lack of confidence or self esteem
  • Memory lapses
  • Easily distracted and unable to keep up with work
  • Undue worrying
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Insomnia

You may notice one of these effects, or many of the above. However, if you notice any of these signs in your employees there is action you can take. If there is anything you can do, you’ll be able to help them perform better and work more efficiently in their job.

Action:

Stress doesn’t always come from work that’s for sure but work can definitely have an impact, and being compassionate and understanding to our employees’ personal situations is a brilliant attribute to have as an employer.

It can sometimes be difficult for employees to admit they’re struggling to cope and so it can sometimes take you, as their employer to reach out first. Give your employees the confidence to know that admitting they need help, reaching out and being honest shows true strength. The more you open up discussions and offer a listening ear, the more you can help make changes and make a more effective, efficient and healthy place to work.

  • Make time to talk: It can be difficult, particularly if employees are working from home, to make time to have a proper conversation. However, this is more important than ever! Having a phone call or video chat can help reduce the feeling of loneliness and isolation, giving them a safe place to get things of their chest and keep you up to date with how they’re coping. Once you’re in the know, you can offer assistance, advice and solutions.
  • Accept and Appreciate: It can be easy as an employer to avoid approaching the subject of stress. If business is running smoothly and employees are working well, it can be easy to assume everything is ok. However, this assumption may make it even harder for employees to reach out. The more we can appreciate how our employees are feeling and accept what the causes are, the more we can focus on how to solve it.
  • Courses: Offering courses to your clients shows a true commitment to their wellbeing. Our Stress Awareness Courses, Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) service, Management Referral support (telephone, face to face or video), Mental Health Triages and Know Your Numbers services all take solid action in approaching the issues associated with workplace stress. We can tailor your service to suit your industry, your business and your employees so you can really get the most out of your time and create an effective solution to stress for you and your team. It’s quite common for us to just accept that stress is part of our lives, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If we can take small steps to reduce our stress, it can lead to a much more fulfilling, healthy, happy life.

Stress Awareness Week is just one week in the year with a focus on what causes, effects and actions we need to be aware of when it comes to stress. However, if this week can shed a light on how we can all improve our focus on stress for the good of our own and our teams’ mental and physical wellbeing, it will have a profound and positive effect on all aspects of work and play.

Get in touch with Acorn today to learn more about how we can help you take action now.

Be Stress Aware!

By Awareness, Mental Health, News

Right now, it’s International Stress Awareness Week! Yes, we all say we’re stressed from time to time, but do we really appreciate what that can mean for our personal and professional lives? Do we recognise truly what makes us stressed? And more importantly, do we understand how to eliminate it for the good of our health and happiness?

Stress Awareness Week is all about putting health, happiness and wellbeing into the heart of business. But what does stress awareness mean to you, as an employee?

Causes:

Stress can come from various aspects of our lives but quite often, it actually comes from a number of places at one time and things get overwhelming. It can become an unhealthy state of body and mind and understanding the triggers which cause stress is the first step to eliminating it.

According to ISMA, 602,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2018/2019. Fast forward to 2020 and all the challenges we’ve all had to face this year with workplace changes, working from home, furlough and more, this is set to increase. Struggling to cope with the workload and a lack of support rank high in the reasons for workplace stress. 

Stress doesn’t always come from work, though. Maybe you’re moving house, maybe you’ve recently had a baby and you’re struggling with a lack of sleep, maybe you have financial concerns or health worries. All of these are natural, normal and understandable concerns for anyone to have in 2020, and realising where your stress is coming from, helps you to digest what needs to be done.

Effects:

We often think of stress as being a mental health issue, but it may be surprising to learn that stress can also have a huge effect on our physical health too! Here’s some examples of how stress affects your body…

Physical effects:

  • Aches, pains and muscle tension
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Extreme weight loss or gain
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Cold or sweaty hands and feet
  • Menstrual changes or loss of libido
  • High blood pressure

Emotional and Psychological effects:

  • Tearful
  • Mood swings
  • Angry and frustrated
  • Lack of confidence or self esteem
  • Memory lapses
  • Easily distracted
  • Undue worrying
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Insomnia

You may experience one of these effects, or many of the above. However, if you notice any of these signs and feel you know the cause, there is action you can take. And taking action right now will have a positive effect on your physical and mental health for both your personal and your professional life. If you can take action, you’ll be able to perform better and work more efficiently in your job AND you’ll enjoy your down time and be able to relax even more.

Action:

It can sometimes be difficult to admit you’re struggling to cope and you may fear it show weakness. However, let’s be clear, it really isn’t! Admitting you need help, reaching out and being honest shows true strength in your ability to perform well. The more transparent you can be about how you’re doing, the more those around you can help.

  • Take time for you. Commit to spending even just a few minutes a day to yourself. Whether that’s meditating, yoga, reading, walking or anything else that lets you switch off is great. No technology! Move away from your computer and your phone and be present in the moment, breathe and focus on how you feel right now.
  • Talk to loved ones. Yes, talk, talk, talk! This is sometimes the most difficult but is easily the most effective action to take when you’re suffering with stress. Tell those closest to you how you’re feeling, why you’re feeling that way and open discussions as to what you think may help. Even just having that conversation can be a great relief.
  • Talk to your employer. It’s difficult for an employer to take action to help your work situation if you don’t tell them. If you’re good at getting the job done they may not even realise the stress you’re under. Request a meeting, grab a coffee and explain how you’re feeling. There are so many brilliant resources and solutions an employer can offer to help you out. After all, they want a happy, healthy workforce to keep business moving, so it’s for the good of everyone!
  • List your actions: Making a physical list is always a great way to tidy your mind. List your concerns. List your causes and then make notes of ideal ways you can reduce those causes. You may not be able to tackle everything in one go, but just focusing on one area at a time will begin to make a real difference.

It’s quite common for us to just accept that stress is part of our lives, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If we can take small steps to reduce our stress, it can lead to a much more fulfilling, healthy, happy life.

Learn more about how Acorn can help you and your colleagues with our Stress Awareness Courses, Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) service, Management Referral support (telephone, face to face or video), Mental Health Triages and more, on our website now.

Balance or Burn Out

By Awareness, Guidance, Mental Health, News

The world of the workplace is changing. This year has seen a monumental shift in where, how and why we work the way we do. And, as increasing pressures and demands at work can be one of the biggest worries to the mental health of people nationwide, this is becoming even more of a concern during the pandemic. The effect of increased working hours and high pressure jobs are having a huge impact on lifestyle, which can be detrimental to the sustainability of good mental health. 

There is no set system on how to create a healthy work life balance, mainly as it is susceptible to change with the varying demands of life, like having children or changing career paths. What is important though, is understanding what works for you, at a certain time and having the knowledge to control the balance between work and life. 

The Mental Health Foundation have researched that more than 40% of employees have neglected parts of their home life due to workplace stress. In turn, this can increase a person’s vulnerability to mental health problems. 

Juggling Pressure and Wellbeing

Whether you are a CEO of your own business or working part time, it can be overwhelming trying to juggle the daily pressures of life and keeping up to speed at work. Having a successful career is more significant to some people and raising a family is the most important job to others – that is why there is no right or wrong answer. But what you can do is try to prioritise for where you are currently at. 

“As a person’s weekly hours increase, so can their feelings of unhappiness” – Mental Health Foundation.

Preventing Burnouts and having a healthy wellbeing, no matter how you manage it, will help all other aspects of your life fall into place. Having time to relax and unwind will re-charge your body and mind ready for the next day, no matter what it has to bring. 

How Employers Can Help

A happy workforce is a productive workforce. Employees that have a positive work-life balance do a better job at work and promoting this can be beneficial to employers and employees alike. Far too often companies are pushing their staff to work harder and for longer hours, which tends to be for the benefit of themselves. By driving the balance of work and life into your company’s core values, you are instantly setting a standard that you have the wellbeing of your employees at the heart of the business. 

Openly having discussions with employees at work and assessing what is and isn’t working within the company is a great start and will instantly show areas that can be worked on as a team. From encouraging annual leave, the odd early finish on a Friday and discussing personal life with staff is a sure way to start open conversations and hopefully spot burn out before it’s too late.

Maintaining Work-life Balance

Work life balance is not intended to be equal on both parts. Thinking about the current demands of your professional life and personal life can be the first step into analysing what fits where.

You may find that sometimes work priorities are 70% and life is reduced to 30%, but when a family event is on the horizon it switches to 20% work and 80% life. The right balance for you today might be different from yesterday and will change again tomorrow. But that is Ok. What is important is that you are in control and being realistic to your own needs. 

Stress is often linked to a lack of work-life balance.

Stress is one of the most common causes of short-term and long-term absence (CIPD, 2012). The HSE estimate that 2,000,000 people in the UK are currently suffering from an illness caused by, or made worse by, their work environment and if allowed to pile up, can lead to deeper mental health problems and personal distress. 

At Acorn Occupational Health we can provide an anonymous Stress/Wellbeing Audits which help provide an insight to any stress issues that your company may have, alongside management referral appointments with a nurse to help employees open up about any stresses at home or work. For more information regarding services that may be of benefit to your workplace, please contact us on 01260 277797 or info@acornoh.co.uk.

Mental Health Day

Working with Mental Health

By Awareness, Mental Health, News

Mental health affects us all. How we think, how we feel and how we live our daily lives. Mental health illnesses refer to a wide range of conditions that relate to how a person feels, perceives a situation, and behaves. These range from mild levels to quite severe, depending on the strength of the illness, of which there are over 200 classified forms. 

If you struggle with your mental health, you may find that the ways you react to certain situations and feel about things becomes difficult. Similarly, if you had a physical illness, a broken wrist would affect your daily tasks such as driving, lifting, and even eating. Most people would see their Doctor and undertake appropriate treatment. However, mental health has not always been looked upon in the same efficient way.

Now more than ever, looking after your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. The whole world is currently going through a monumental shift and historic moment in time. This means we all need to keep our mental health in check to ensure we can live and work to the best of our ability, no matter what life throws at us.

Getting to know the Facts and Figures 

Mental health has become mainstream in the press and media over recent years, with more and more people opening up about their past and current difficulties with their mental health. However, few of us know how to differentiate between one disorder to another. 

Depression – Around 3 million people in the UK are diagnosed with depression every year, making this the highest and most common form of mental illness not just in the UK but also worldwide. The mental health charity, Mind, have researched that more than half of these people will or have tried to commit suicide because of their illness. 

Anxiety – In a lifetime, most people will have the feeling of anxiousness whilst coping with stressful events or changes, particularly if it has a big impact on your life. 25% of anxiety sufferers are between the ages of 13 and 18 years old. Spotting any early signs of anxiety is essential, especially for young people, to support them and prevent further mental health illnesses.

Bipolar – Bipolar is a type of depression that is often characterised with mood swings from one extreme to the other. From feeling high to crashing to a depressively low mood. 

Stress – Most of us have, or certainly will experience some strain of stress in our lifetime. 85% of UK adults are experiencing stress regularly. Although stress is not a psychiatric diagnosis, it can cause and aggravate underlying mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. An individual may think that this is well controlled but added stressors can potentially pull these issues to the surface.

It has been noted that 1 in 5 people will call in sick due to workplace stress. Although it may not feel so at the time, starting a conversation about mental health doesn’t have to be difficult. More than 60% of employers said that they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but need specialist guidance of how to do so in the correct and most effective way. 

Spot the Signs

Early intervention is key in the diagnosis of a mental health illness and supporting someone that may be struggling to come to terms with the illness. Many people suffer in silence when they have a mental health condition and reports show that just 21% of people with a mental health condition are actively in employment. By tracking absence, employers can identify when people are taking regular days off sick or more days than usual. This could be the first sign that there may be underlying mental health conditions.

Act now, before it is too late

Statistics from ‘The Shaw Mind Foundation’ show that within the UK, mental health problems in the workplace cost the economy approximately £70 billion annually. Employers need to be actively thinking about their workplace culture from the start. This is something that will naturally grow and develop with a business, but you need to be influencing it daily. What do you want your working environment to be like? Remember that individuals are all different and that people will naturally shine and possibly struggle in different ways. Addressing and assisting in these areas will create happy workers, which is not only a positive mental influence, but employers will gain a more productive workforce that has full confidence in their company.

Listen – Always take time to listen to your employees. The first signs of spotting a change in the workplace can come from contact with fellow workers. Engaging with the whole workforce regularly and encouraging discussions can flag up any early concerns.

Take a Break – Encourage employees to step away from their workstation. Take a walk in the fresh air or walk to a local café to grab a coffee. This can intercept the feelings of stress before they become overwhelming. 

Support Training for Managers – Specialised mental health charities like ‘Mind’ hold training and consultancy courses to support HR and managers around various areas of mental health including Emotional Intelligence and Supporting Someone with Mental Health. This can provide essential guidance and support for employers. 

Appraisals – Regular appraisals are great for everyone, especially someone who may be feeling vulnerable, stressed or overwhelmed. It’s a great way to have a one to one and discuss any potential adjustments or support that can be put in place. And also, to give credit where credit is due.

Use your Occupational Health – Having an Occupational Health service can provide that steppingstone between an employee and a manger which can prove helpful if there are any workplace stressors. Gaining guidance from a professional is valuable not just for the employee, but essential to the employer. Occupational Health provide medical guidance on how to support an individual at work and assist in the correct way.

At Acorn Occupational Health we have seen an active increase in workplace absence directly linked to mental illnesses. There is no way to pin-point the cause of a mental health problem as they are all individual to that person, however, getting that person fit and healthy, and back into work, significantly increases when there is a support system at work that can be relied upon.

Acorn Occupational Health can also help you with a great range of programmes and workshops to help further support your goals of promoting positive mental health in the workplace…

Well-Being Audit (Stress Audit)

This is a questionnaire based anonymous stress audit for businesses. It enables the employer to understand whether there are significant issues regarding employee well-being. It considers the most prevalent stressors in the organisation, whether they are real or perceived and an employee’s ability to cope. A report is then produced for the employer that offers advice regarding approaches that may reduce stress in the workplace.

BOUNCE Back Workshop

Acorn have recently launched a ‘BOUNCE Back Workshop’ which helps individuals with their mental health and resilience. This is a 1-day course where individuals will be given an understanding of stress, how to identify its potential sources, maintain focus in difficult situations and how to remain calm, in control and emotionally balanced. It also gives managers the correct advice in order to provide the appropriate support to employees and colleagues.

All of the tools taught on the workshop enable an individual to ‘bounce back’ from setbacks that might occur at any stage. 

Stress / Resilience Training 

What does stress look like? What exactly is stress?  This training covers the effects of stress and how you as an individual or an employer can learn to help. It also covers personality types along with the factors affecting how someone reacts to pressure and how employers can help to support these situations.

Well Persons Medical

This is a comprehensive medical assessment where employees are reassured that they are in good health, or that early action could prevent ill health. Dependant on your requirements, the medical can include blood pressure, pulse, urinalysis, mental health review, vision, cholesterol and glucose checks, a musculoskeletal review, weight and advice about lifestyle, diet and fitness.

EAP (Employee Assistance Programme)

Acorn’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, online and on the telephone. Designed to answer your questions immediately or to refer you to the most appropriate advisor, counsellor or source of information. The service includes legal, financial, consumer and personal advice and it is all completely confidential.

Counselling

Acorn can arrange counselling referrals with trained professionals who complete therapies such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. We can also arrange appointments with Psychiatric specialists, depending on the individual’s requirements.

Whether it is yourself that is dealing with a mental illness, or have an employee who is suffering, it is key to recognise that with the right guidance and help, a mental health illness is one that can be treated.

Don’t ignore your concerns, start your recovery now.  For more information on the services that Acorn provide, please contact the office on 01260 277797 or email info@acornoh.co.uk.

And for further information and advice on mental health issues, be sure to read the incredible resources, research and guidance at www.mind.org.uk

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?

World Health Day – We Salute All Of Our Nurses

By Awareness, Coronavirus, Guidance, News

World Health Day is recognised on the 7th April to promote awareness on various health related topics from around the world. This day marks the anniversary of the World Health Organisation which was founded on the 7th April 1948.

World Health Day 2020 highlights the current status of nursing around the world – which at the moment has never been more crucial, therefore we should continuously support our nurses over the globe.

This year we are celebrating the incredible work of our nurses and midwifes, which couldn’t be more appropriate during the COVID-19 pandemic. This day is designed to celebrate the work of our nurses and health care workers to remind the whole world of the crucial role in which nurses from all sectors play to keep the world healthy, even more so than ever during this crisis.

Nurses and health workers are all at the forefront of the COVID-19 response and continuously providing high quality care when its needed the most.

These professions are the backbone of any health care team, whether nurses work in emergency services, child health, A&E, mental health, occupational health, NICU, schools, public health and elderly care (to name just a few) – we salute you all.

To honour #WorldHealthDay we have asked some of Acorns wonderful nurses to look at what guided them down their nursing path, previous experiences and what they love the most about being a nurse.

Isabel Burrows – Clinical Lead of Acorn Occupational Health

“When I was 4 years old my dad broke his leg in a road traffic accident and was in hospital for 6 months. During this time we used to visit him once a week. I became fascinated by the nurses. I loved how smart they looked and the discipline they demonstrated. I went over to one of the nurses and asked if I could put my name down on the waiting list so that I could become a nurse when I was old enough. She wrote my name down on the list. I truly believed I was on the list until I was a teenager.

“I was never in any doubt of what I wanted to do. I applied for a student nurse post at the same hospital (North Staffs Royal Infirmary) where my dad was nursed when I was 18 years old. I started work as a student nurse in September 1984. I qualified in December 1987. Our nursing set all passed the course together. We still keep in touch and meet up about 4 times a year.

“I have never regretted becoming a nurse. I have loved every job that I have had. I enjoy caring for people and the versatility of the work.

“My Dad who is sadly no longer with me told me ‘if you become a nurse, you will never be without a job’ and he was so right. My parents used to call me Matron with affection.

“I love working in Occupational Health because it concentrates on prevention rather than waiting for people to become ill.”

Isabel Burrows

Arlene Moss – Senior Occupational Health Advisor

“I trained in nursing from 1973 – 1976. I worked in A&E rising to a Sister over 18 years and I loved it. It always made you feel like you were making a difference and helping so many people.”

“Following having my 3 sons, now 28, 26 and 23, I trained and moved into Occupational Health. I then worked for 19 years as an Occupational Health Advisor and Manager for and FTSE 100 company and worked with a fantastic, forward thinking manager.

“After leaving there, I worked for a year at the Transport Police before joining the team at Acorn as a Senior Occupational Health Advisor, which I love. No day is the same and every case is so different. Spending so much time at work, you really do have to enjoy what you do.”

Arlene Moss

Sharon Proudlove – Occupational Health Screening Nurse

“From a young age, I was always surrounded by ‘medical’ stuff – my dad had spent the latter part of his army career working in the medical corps and then went onto become a First Aider for the Gas Board, taking part in numerous First Aid competitions up and down the UK. He became the go to person for anyone in the neighbourhood long before 111 came about!”

“I was torn between wanting to train as a nurse or to work with people with disabilities  so my careers teacher suggested I train as a nurse for people with Learning Disabilities, I didn’t even know there was such a qualification! So that’s what I did. From 1982 to 1995 I worked in a large hospital for people with very profound learning and physical disabilities and challenging behaviours with complex mental health issues too. I rose through the ranks becoming a Ward Sister and then a Night Shift Coordinator.

“But I still hankered to be an RGN – so in 2004 I retrained and gained my RGN qualification. I love doing all things clinical and medical, give me a mucky wound or an abscess to dress and I’m in my element.

“I’ve worked in various specialities within the hospital setting and am proud of my profession and my only regret is not having got into Occupational Health Nursing 15 years ago.

“I love being a nurse. When someone says if you had your time all over again what would you be? Well, I’d still be a nurse!”

Sharon Proudlove

Claire McMullan – Occupational Health Screening Nurse

“My dreams of becoming a nurse started when I was a little girl maybe at the age of 6 – seeing my auntie being a nurse in her dress, belt and cap. She was my first inspiration.

“I started my career in nursing as a Health Care Assistant in the NHS many years ago. I always enjoyed providing the best care I could to my patients and knowing they were comfortable and listening to everyone’s life stories and experiences.

“I eventually moved into Occupational Health as a Technician which I really enjoyed. I quickly outgrew this role, so I decided to go and do my access course into nursing and then went onto my nursing Degree. During this time I unfortunately lost a close friend who passed away suddenly. She always knew I wanted to be a nurse, where she always kept on my case trying to push me to do it. With her passing I decided to pursue my dream for her and myself.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a student nurse over 3 years, I met a lot of knowledgeable, smart and caring professionals along the way which moulded me into the nurse I am today.

“I’m now back in Occupational Health and provide support to employers and employees, and monitor the health of the workforce. Again, I meet a lot of people on a daily basis and I know I make a difference to them. I’m there to support individuals, speak for them when they feel unable to and offer guidance that can be implemented into the workplace.  I still have a lot to learn in this area of nursing, but I know I will shine and continue to do the best I can. I work in a great team of other Nurses, Technicians and of course our Admin Team of whom all support me daily.

“All nurses will be committed, provide care, show compassion, have courage, communicate to others where required and are competent in what we do.”

“I know I contain all these qualities and I will always be the best nurse I can be … I am proud to be a nurse.”

Claire McMullan

To all of the nurses and health care professionals out there that are working hard, not just today, but everyday – we salute you!