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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

Acorn Accepted on to NHS England Framework

Acorn Accepted on to NHS England Framework

By News

Occupational Health Provider Acorn are proud to now be working with the NHS during this difficult time and beyond.

Acorn was launched by Isabel Burrows, Andrew Burrows and Hayley Rhodes in 2005. The name of the business was developed through the idea of the company beginning as a small enterprise but through nurture and determination it would flourish into something the team could be proud of; much like an oak tree!

With that in mind, we have worked tirelessly over the last 15 years to develop our 28-strong team which enable us to provide occupational health services to a wide variety of private sector businesses. Through a sound appreciation of continued education, development and progression for every employee, Acorn was able to become one of the most well-respected occupational health service providers in the private sector.

Thus, leading us to also achieve SEQOHS status in 2012. This accreditation further cemented our standing and enabled us to apply for the NHS England Framework in 2020.

2020 has turned into an historic year. From personal to professional lives and from businesses to healthcare providers, this is a year in which we will all come to remember the stoic determination, the love, the loss and the resolute nature of all working and living through the COVID-19 outbreak. As Isabel’s background is predominantly nursing with the NHS and as a team, Acorn has seen first-hand the incredible work of healthcare providers. Their dedication to the cause, selfless acts of commitment to care and their ability to shape shift to adapt to the ever-changing healthcare landscape is inspirational. 

And so, as we find ourselves in the depths of a pandemic, it was only natural for the Acorn team to aspire to play their part. And when the team were accepted on to the NHS England Framework it meant we were ready and waiting for NHS Trusts to call out for our help and be able to take action straight away! Acorn have a variety of resources that can be accessed with six public health nurses and other experienced occupational health nurses and technicians who can take some of the strain away from the NHS. In order to employ the additional 20,000 nurses and doctors that have come back to work for the NHS, it has to be done safely as well as efficiently. This means they need to have access to occupational health for clearance, vaccines and Fitness to Work medicals – This is Acorn’s speciality! We can also assist with antigen or antibody testing, PPE effectiveness testing, as well as a variety of other tasks which enable the NHS to work effectively during this crisis.

Occupational health may not be at the forefront of the public’s mind during this pandemic, but it is a vital cog in the healthcare machine that enables the frontline to provide the vital care to all that need it.

Occupational Health Services during the COVID-19 pandemic ensure the NHS Trusts we will be begin working with are acting safely and efficiently. Both as important as the other and both something we pride ourselves in giving our clients.

During this historic year, we all must play our part. And at Acorn Occupational Health Services we are proud to be ready, be experienced, and be recognised as an establishment that is qualified to do just that.

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!

Coronavirus Antibody Tests

By Coronavirus, Guidance, News

Acorn now have the opportunity to provide an instant, rapid antibody test for Coronavirus (Covid-19). Please find questions and answers regarding the test detailed below

This testing regarding coronavirus follows requests for this service from many of our customers.

Testing Times:

  • 5 minutes to take the blood sample
  • 15 minutes to read
  • 5 minutes to explain the result to the individual and write a certificate/report

Need to know:

  • The kits are ordered on demand and delivery takes 1-2 weeks.
  • Once the kits have been ordered, they cannot be cancelled.

For more information regarding the antibody test kits please get in touch with Acorn. You can call us on 01260 277797 or email: info@acornoh.co.uk


Questions and Answers:

How is the test performed?

This is a blood test taken from a finger prick. A nurse or technician will attend to employees who are not displaying obvious symptoms (cough and high temperature). The nurse or technician will be wearing appropriate PPE.

What does this test tell you?

The test will provide information on antibodies for Covid-19. This will give the employee information as to whether they have developed any antibodies. The test provides results for both the IgM and IgG antibodies.

What do the antibodies tell you?

  • If no IgM or IgG antibodies are detected it means that the individual has not been in contact with the virus but may be at risk if they do come into contact with Covid-19 or if they have mild symptoms they may be in the “window” with early stages of infection.
  • IgM antibodies detected in an initial blood sample mean that it is likely that the person became infected with Covid-19 virus within recent weeks or they are in the early stages of infection and should self-isolate.
  • IgG and IgM antibodies detected in an initial blood sample mean that the individual is in the active phase of infection but the human body is developing some immunity to Covid-19.
  • IgG antibodies are detected but the IgM is negative, then it is likely that the person had an infection sometime in the past and they are clear of infection meaning that they have gained antibodies and are safe to work.

Does the test need to be sent to a laboratory?

No, the test provides an instant result within 15 minutes. However, like all screening tests further laboratory testing may be required based on both current and future guidelines issued by Public Health England.

What happens if the test is positive?

We will provide advice according to the result

Is the test validated?

The test is validated and CE marked for professional use only. Public Health England have not validated the test yet and when/if they do it is possible that all the test kits will be redirected to the NHS.

What is the accuracy of the test?

This test is 99.2% accurate


If you would like any more information regarding the coronavirus antibody test, give us a call on 01260 277797.

Guidance For People Working From Home

By Guidance, News

A nurse from our team at Acorn has prepared the following guidance to anyone working from home.

There can be many benefits to an employee for working from home including increased flexibility, improved productivity, reduced travel costs, enhanced work life balance and a comfortable working environment. There are however things to consider in order to maintain your health,  well-being and productivity when working from home. Employees working from home are ideally: happy in their own company, self-disciplined and motivated, resilient, able to work without supervision and are able to separate work from home life.

Please see below some points to consider when working from home.

Ensure you have a dedicated work area. If using a laptop, consider having separate mouse and keyboard and continue good principles of good Display Screen Equipment (DSE) posture. If possible and available, use a computer desk and chair and sit with your back supported and arms horizontal to the keyboard.

Make the most of technology

There are many programs, apps and tools available to make it faster and easier to cross tasks off your to-do list. Use these tools to your advantage by setting reminders to be sure you accomplish everything on your list. Keep connected with other colleagues through use of Skype, Zoom and Whats App groups.

Be mindful of of technology distractions – There are so many things you can do with internet access — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, etc. The time you spend “screen sucking” during work hours translates into more time you’ll need to work when you should be done for the day. Occasional checks are okay but try to restrict these during working hours or use a timer to be sure an hour hasn’t passed without you noticing.

Take regular breaks

Breaks are crucial, even if it’s just to walk to the kitchen to refresh your coffee or check the mailbox, a change of scenery can greatly improve your ability to focus and concentrate. Just a few minutes of thinking about something other than work can help to re-energise and focus. This will also allow you to avoid eye strain and keep those headaches at bay.

Plan ahead

Schedule appointments and personal activities at the beginning or end of the day, whenever possible, as you would if you were working in an office. It’s more efficient to go to the dentist early in the morning and work a little later, rather than stopping your work flow in the middle of the day.

Making a to-do list whilst planning will help to prepare what you can to ensure that you can hit the ground running. It will help to kick start the day smoothly.

Enforce willpower

It can be difficult to work from home when you’re surrounded by chores you could do and hobbies or activities you enjoy. Add these into the planning of your day if required, but set boundaries for yourself so that you are continuing to enforce the correct balance when working from home.

General well-being

  • Eat Healthy – Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and drink 6 glasses of water each day. Try to avoid the easily accessible snacks where possible.
  • Exercise – Try to perform 30 minutes of exercise, 5 times per week. This can be a walk at lunch time or yoga in the morning, try something new.
  • Social Contact – Keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues via telephone or Skype.
  • Sleep well – Try to have 7 to 8 hours sleep per night and do not look at monitors and screens prior to bedtime.

Everyone works differently, but hopefully these points will help to guide you in the right direction when working from home.

Choose to Talk

By Mental Health, News

Cut the stigma around mental ill health

What does the term ‘mental health’ mean to you? Quite often, due to its stigma, it is linked to negative connotations – that someone is ’mad’ or to ‘avoid them, they are crazy’. Which in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Mental disorders can be triggered by a variety of genetic and environmental factors, of which one person cannot predict will happen to them or how it will affect them mentally.

Often, when someone is going through mental ill-health, it stems from a negative influence, which could be why there is a ‘grey cloud’ over the definition ‘Mental Health’. We are getting to a point now where people are openly talking more about mental illnesses, but there is still an immense negativity hanging over the term ‘Mental Health’.

Talking about feelings can often be the beginning of what can feel like a marathon for someone who is struggling with their mental health. 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health related breakdown. The more open conversations that happen, the more myths that can be broken about mental illnesses.

As individuals, employers and human beings, we need to help end the isolation that can often come with a mental illness. Raising positive awareness of mental health issues will help managers to support colleagues and staff who are struggling at work whilst addressing the needs of the business.

It’s Time to Talk

It is important to understand that mental ill-health can effect anyone, at any time of their life. They can be linked to personal issues, work problems or relationship breakdowns. The ‘strongest’ of people can often be the ones suffering most, as a mask gets pulled down and a smile gets painted on, no one would know any different. Just asking how somebody is can really make the world of difference to someone on their darkest day. Time to Talk Day encourages individuals to do just that – talk to each other!

Time to Talk Day – 6th February 2020 has been developed and is led by the charities ‘Time to Change’, ‘Mind’ and ‘Rethink Mental Illness’. This day encourages everyone, including businesses to add to the larger conversation and address the sigma around mental health, especially in the workplace.

Games, social events, printable materials and small encouragements such as stepping away from your desks to have a coffee and a chat can be great opportunities to start up a conversation around mental health, and act as that first stepping stone which could potentially be life changing for someone.

Speak up if you’re struggling. Talking does not make someone weak. It makes them human” – Andrew Solomon, a motivational author who has suffered with anxiety and depression.

Something as simple as talking can be a great step forward for anyone who may be suffering in solitude with their mental ill-health. Time to Talk have some fantastic resources on their website such as posters, email templates, games and activities to encourage talking about all aspects of mental health in the workplace that you can find here:

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/time-talk-day

https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/sites/default/files/TtC%20Workplace%20Activity%20Pack%202020_0.pdf

Employee Assistance Programme – (EAP)

Alongside the face to face support within the workplace, there is also a professional service that can be offered to employees that is practical and confidential.

Acorn’s Employee Assistance Programme is a service that can help an individual at a time when they maybe don’t know where to turn.

The service is available 24/7 with trained service representatives at the end of every phone, ready to guide you to the best specialist support or counselling. Whether it’s a personal issue, coping with grief, workplace pressure, financial troubles, parenting challenges or a question that you just don’t know where to get the answer, the EAP system is designed to answer any questions immediately, where applicable, or refer you to the most appropriate advisor, counsellor or source of information.

This has proven a successful tool from start to finish for many companies. Having a number to call instantly when faced with troubles and being able seek guidance before a mental illness comes into the picture, an employee can speak to someone that is qualified to give accurate support.

But what is most important, it gives a person a safe place to talk to a professional. If an employee has been away from the workplace, they can use this service to help them comfortably get back into work knowing that they have the EAP system in place to support them through the process.

At Acorn Occupational Health, we like to practice what we preach and have an EAP for all of our staff as well as offering this as a service to other businesses.

We are also enthusiastically participating in Time to Talk Day 2020. Have a look on our social platforms to see what we are actively doing to cut the stigma of mental health in the workplace.

By changing how we talk about mental health issues, we can begin to impact negative mindsets and behaviours which affect so many people.

Let’s make a difference, today.