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Active Workplace Programme transforms staff

Subject: Active Workplace Programme transforms staff


Medical staff in the Far North have had an extra spring to their step since becoming the first within the Northland DHB to take part in Active Workplace.

Kaitaia Hospital and the Far North Mental Health and Addiction Services officially launched their Active Workplace yesterday, although it kicked off in October.

The programme is guided and supported by Sport Northland, with a mission and goal of “active workplace, healthy staff and healthy patients”. Active Workplace involves staff members undertaking on-site gym sessions, various aerobic, fitness and relaxation classes and team participation in local multi-sport events, to name a few.

Upon its conception, one of the co-ordinator’s Suzie Edwards said it looked a daunting task. However, the heads’ of departments rallying together, combined with staff participation had culminated in its success to date.

Kaitaia Hospital and Far North Mental Health Services operational manager, and one of the project leads, Neta Smith agrees: “It has been absolutely successful. There’s just been a buzz throughout the departments and there’s no cost – just time.”

The official launch of Active Workplace was celebrated on Thursday with a karakia, healthy shared lunch, raffles, quizzes and prizes. Speakers included Sport Northland representatives, along with the organisers of the programme. A Northland rep for the Ki-O-Rahi World Champs, and a samurai sword expert gave demos and motivational speeches.

Joining the gathering via video conference was Northland DHB chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain, who praised the Far North staff for being the first to take on the “fantastic initiative”.

“You are one of the jewels in our crown and have a fantastic culture,” he said of the Far North Northland DHB staff. If you’re healthy, you are more engaged in what you’re doing and, therefore, more productive. If you’re involved (in Active Workplace) you cannot help but get caught up in it and I’m hoping other hospitals will jump on board.”


The heads’ of departments plan a monthly calendar of events which is distributed to staff.

Events include on-site gym classes such as Zumba, boxing, circuit and step aerobics, as well as relaxation and stress-release classes. The calendar also includes team participation in half marathons and bike riding events.

In addition to exercise, healthy eating is promoted and a garden has been established to provide healthy produce for sub-acute mental health clients, their families and staff.

Sport Northland rep Sharon Adams said staff members have undergone some amazing changes and transformed themselves.

“It’s just phenomenal what you have already started. I really commend you in starting with Active Workplace.”

Success stories from those participating include a 25kg weight loss and a formerly overweight staff member becoming the programme’s Zumba instructor.

Ms Smith said it was about making small changes and becoming actively smarter.

“I’m really impressed with the way staff have embraced it. They’ve taken it on and run with it.”

# Sport Northland Active Workplace Programme
The Sport Northland Active Workplace Programme can work with your workplace to help inject more physical activity through an interactive 12-month plan.
Promoting physical activity in and around the workplace is simple and inexpensive. Workplaces benefit from having active employees who are happy, healthy and lead a more balanced lifestyle.
It is estimated that individuals spend up to 60 per cent of their waking hours at work (Peersman, Harden and Oliver, 1998); therefore the workplace provides individuals with a significant potential setting for physical activity.
The Active Workplace Programme is designed around what you and your colleagues can do as part of your workplace to help create a healthier environment for staff.
The main areas of focus include anything from looking at the workplaces’ physical environment, initiatives to help modify staff behaviour, the workplaces’ policies and practices, and, of course, the fun things that help improve staff morale and cohesiveness. The Active Workplace programme addresses the problems of high drop-out and poor intervention maintenance by working with the workplace to create a 12-month plan that allows for opportunities to modify the intervention so that it can be improved upon. This allows flexibility in the intervention to change / evolve as necessary to sustain the plan.


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