Seeka staff lose it in health chal­lenge

Te Puke Times - - NEWS - By SCOTT YEO­MAN

Staff at Seeka have col­lec­tively lost more than 180kg in a Big­gest Loser chal­lenge set up to en­cour­age em­ploy­ees to im­prove their health and well­be­ing.

The ini­tia­tive was started af­ter the Te Puke-based pro­duce com­pany com­pleted the West­ern Bay of Plenty Pri­mary Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Work­place Well­ness pro­gramme.

The pro­gramme, said to be the only one of its kind in New Zealand, pro­vides a free nurs­ing out­reach ser­vice in part­ner­ship with med­i­cal cen­tres.

It in­cludes on-the-spot free heart, di­a­betes and women’s health checks, as well as vac­ci­na­tions, im­mu­ni­sa­tions and help for smok­ers to quit.

“A lot of our em­ploy­ees are shift and sea­sonal work­ers, so get­ting to see a doc­tor can be dif­fi­cult,” Seeka’s Ange Storck said.

“Bring­ing health checks into the work­place is an ef­fi­cient way for them to check in on their health.”

Tracy McLean, a mem­ber of Seeka’s Ver­i­fied Lab Ser­vices team, was one of those to take part in the Big­gest Loser chal­lenge af­ter the pro­gramme. She has lost 4kg.

“I think the fact there was an ini­tia­tive put out there gave us the en­cour­age­ment to start some­thing,” the 41 year old said.

“It was op­por­tu­nity to en­cour­age [col­leagues] to join and keep them mo­ti­vated to keep go­ing, and get us out from be­hind our desks.”

Some staff mem­bers walked the block to­gether, oth­ers climbed the Pa¯pa¯moa Hills reg­u­larly, and seven of the VLS team go to a fit­ness class in their lunch break.

Be­tween Oc­to­ber last year and June 30 this year, 17 busi­nesses were in­volved in the Work­place Well­ness pro­gramme, a lot of them in the pack house and con­struc­tion in­dus­tries.

West­ern Bay of Plenty PHO ser­vices leader, Philippa Jones, said the pro­gramme tar­gets busi­nesses which em­ploy peo­ple who are not en­rolled with a Gen­eral Prac­tice (GP).

“And if they’ve got Ma¯ori, Pa­cific, Asian or low paid work­ers, be­cause the Min­istry of Health classes those as high need.”

She said WBOP PHO has more than 61,000 peo­ple from that “high need” pop­u­la­tion en­rolled.

“So we’re try­ing to reach those with high need. If busi­nesses know they’ve got work­ers who are tend­ing not to go to Gen­eral Prac­tice, for what­ever rea­son, they prob­a­bly need to con­tact us so we can bring the work to them.”

The Work­place Well­ness pro­gramme feeds test re­sults back to peo­ple’s doc­tors and if they do not have a doc­tor, helps them en­rol with one.

Ms Jones said the pro­gramme was

aim­ing to ramp up its reach this fi­nan­cial year and work with around 40 busi­nesses.

Di­a­betes and gout were be­ing seen reg­u­larly, she said, and as part of the pro­gramme, spe­cial­ist nurses were go­ing into busi­nesses to ed­u­cate and help peo­ple man­age those spe­cific con­di­tions.

She said di­a­betes was reach­ing “epi­demic pro­por­tions” and could be cat­a­strophic, while gout was very com­mon and not al­ways well man­aged.

Waimarie Sylvester, who co-or­di­nates Work­place Well­ness, said the pro­gramme was con­stantly evolv­ing.

It ini­tially fo­cused on car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk as­sess­ments, cer­vi­cal smears and mam­mo­gram re­fer­rals.

But con­nect­ing peo­ple to GPs was now a strong fo­cus and there were also more and more con­ver­sa­tions about men­tal health. Two com­mu­nity di­eti­cians have also got in­volved.

One of those di­eti­cians re­turned to Seeka af­ter it com­pleted its pro­gramme to ed­u­cate the staff mem­bers tak­ing part in the Big­gest Loser chal­lenge.

A to­tal of 82 peo­ple have lost a com­bined 182.2kg.

The Work­place Well­ness checks will be of­fered to Seeka staff an­nu­ally.

PHOTO / GE­ORGE NO­VAK

Mem­bers of Seeka’s Ver­i­fied Lab Ser­vices team do­ing an af­ter­noon work­out. Eight VLS staff took part in the weight loss chal­lenge, los­ing a col­lec­tive 30.5kg.

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