The article, published in the April 2013 edition of the Jacksonville Hospital News and Healthcare Report, takes a look at how Community Hospice of Northeast Florida is promoting healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices by “addressing the whole person” with their comprehensive wellness program implemented by The Bailey Group.

It Starts with a Commitment

It all starts with a commitment to take that first step toward reaching a goal, and employees at Community Hospice of Northeast Florida are doing just that by strapping up their laces and hitting the pavement in their Start! Walking Challenge.

Getting employees walking is just one of a comprehensive list of wellness initiatives designed to improve the quality of life and work/life balance for the 940 Community Hospice clinicians and administrative staff.

“Providing compassionate comfort and care for patients with advanced illness can sometimes take a toll on caregivers,” said Kathy Johnson, executive vice president of workforce development at Community Hospice. “Promoting healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices can be fun too.”

Johnson believes an essential element of maintaining an engaged and caring workforce is to create an enjoyable work environment. “At Community Hospice we emphasize our need to address the whole person,” said Johnson after a recent wellness committee meeting where she handed out ‘deputy’ badges and ribbons to members who are charged with helping to build enthusiasm and encouraging others to sign up for these programs. “I like to say life is short, humor is free and laughter lowers your blood pressure,” said Johnson.

Long-Term, Sustainable Strategies

Each quarter, a new health and wellness initiative is unveiled that is designed to educate and challenge employees. At the conclusion of the quarter, employees are treated with an onsite event to reward their participation. In conjunction with the beginning of the walking challenge, participants received biometric screenings to provide a baseline for measuring progress throughout the year.

“Our goal is to improve the health behaviors of Community Hospice employees, which ultimately helps lower health care costs for the individual and the company.”

The comprehensive wellness programs are implemented through The Bailey Group, a Saint Augustine-based benefits broker that administers the Community Hospice employee insurance and benefits program. Their consultants worked to design long-term, sustainable strategies to help the Community Hospice wellness committee implement the organization’s overall health program.

“Living Better at Community Hospice” is how it is promoted, according to Madison Goode, director of health promotions at The Bailey Group. “Our goal is to improve the health behaviors of Community Hospice employees, which ultimately helps lower health care costs for the individual and the company.” If we can change the employee health dynamic through preventative fitness and wellness participation, then it’s a win for all concerned, said Goode.

During the second quarter, the focus will shift toward nutrition. Employees will be encouraged to participate in a Recipe Roundup and attend healthy cooking demonstrations. Plans are in the works for winners from the roundup to have their prized culinary masterpiece prepared by the in-house chef and his staff, then served on the menu at the Community Hospice café.

Also designed into the program is a weight management component, aptly named Maintain, Don’t Gain that is strategically implemented to address holiday temptations. Weekly, educational tips on health, fitness and nutrition are offered via the weekly Community Hospice electronic newsletter and the employee Intranet.

Remember the walking challenge that kicked off the year? The third quarter focus is on managing stress with participation in The Couch to 5K Competition. The goal is to have a “Team Purple Nation” walking – or running – in a 5K race. So strap those laces tight and stretch out those quads, we’re in training here.

Source: Jacksonville Hospital News and Healthcare Report