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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

Know Your Numbers

By Facts and Figures, Guidance, News

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!

Maternity Leave Cover – Congleton, Cheshire

By Jobs, News, Vacancies

Temporary – Full time. Monday to Friday 9-5 – Until 30th June 2021. 

The role 

Acorn Occupational Health are currently on the lookout for a self-motivated Business Assistant to offer temporary cover for maternity leave. Responsibilities of the role will include, but are not limited to; account management, customer sales support, report auditing and general administrative responsibilities. You will join a friendly and welcoming team who work together to provide a quality and effective service to our customers. Within the role you will be in daily contact with customers to arrange work, promote our services and assist with any problems that may occur. 

About the company 

Founded in 2005, Acorn are a close knit, supportive and fast-growing occupational health provider. As a business, we help to support the health and wellbeing of employees throughout the UK. We are proud to have received several awards and highly recognised accreditations as a result of our high level of service within the industry. You will join a dynamic and agile company who continually strive for excellence.   

The successful candidate will: 

  • Be a confident user of Microsoft 365.
  • Have previous experience working in an office environment. 
  • Experience in a sales/customer services focused role. 
  • Be a positive and forward thinking individual. 
  • Have solid organisational skills and take pride in the quality of work they produce. 
  • Be a problem solver. 

Desirable skills (but not essential): 

  • Previous experience with document/report auditing.
  • Experience within the occupational health/healthcare industry.

Why join an award-winning company? 

  • 25 days holiday (per annum) 
  • Pension 
  • Subsidised health cash plan with perks 
  • Employee Assistance Programme 
  • Learning & Development opportunities 

If you feel that you are well suited to the above role, we would love to hear from you! To apply, please follow the link to Indeed. We will then be in touch with our application form. 

Indeed: https://bit.ly/3bIPuYh 

No agencies – we are not accepting unsolicited calls or CV’s.  

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.