SOUTH Gippsland Hospital (SGH) has been recognised by the Victorian government for improving the health of its workforce through the Healthy Workplaces Achievement Program.

SGH has been recognised for achieving all five health priority areas of the program.

The areas are: mental health and wellbeing, healthy eating, physical activity, smoking and alcohol, and other drugs.

In 2017, South Gippsland Hospital began the journey to improve its policies and procedures to better support workplace health and wellbeing.

Over the four years, workplace policies were developed and implemented in each of the health priority areas. Policy implementation was embedded through supportive leadership and employee participation, changes to the physical workplace environment, provision of resources, support and information to staff, and engagement with the wider community. Some key examples follow.

An electronic health and wellbeing pack was developed to distribute to all new staff and volunteers commencing at the hospital. The electronic pack directs new employees and volunteers to all the workplace information relating to staff health and wellbeing.

To support mental health and wellbeing, staff members are encouraged to consider flexible working arrangements and if required, access free counselling to assist them in identifying and resolving professional, personal, health or work-related issues.

In line with the Workplace Healthy Eating Policy, SGH only provides healthy options for staff catering.

SGH supports its staff to be physically active by providing options that celebrate physical movement and reduce sedentary behaviour.

A shared bike is available for staff to use during breaks.

Staff can use the Community Health Centre gym equipment and shower facilities.

Staff members are encouraged to make use of green spaces away from desks to accommodate their working style. Participation in a staff-led exercise session, staff yoga-lattes, Ride2Work Day and the annual Murray to Moyne bike ride fundraiser are also encouraged.

Sam Park, director of community health, said South Gippsland Hospital values the health of its employees.

“We believe a healthy workplace supports the wellbeing of all individuals, whether they are seeking, or delivering, our services.

“It is important to the executive team to give all our employees the message that everyone matters. Seeing as ‘health’ is our brand, providing a physically and mentally healthy workplace is a number one priority.”

South Gippsland Hospital was supported to make the changes through assistance from the South Coast Primary and Community Partnership (SCPCP).

“The senior executive team – Paul Greenhalgh, chief executive officer; Claire Kent, director of nursing; and Sam Park – have provided the leadership required for meaningful change in the health and wellbeing space at South Gippsland Hospital,” Rachel Sands, of the SCPCP, said.

“I encourage other health services and workplaces in the region to get involved.”

The Achievement Program is available for free to help workplaces, schools and early childhood services create a healthier environment and the SCPCP can support your organisation.

To find out more about the SCPCP, visit southcoastpcp.org.au or call 0418 672 135 or email admin@southcoastpcp.org.au.

For more details about the Achievement Program, call 1300 721 682 or visit achievementprogram.health.vic.gov.au.