Staff across Cwm Taf University Health Board are aiming to feel healthier by taking part in a new campaign that launches on Monday, March 27.
One Small Change encourages staff to pledge to make one small change to their daily lifestyle and then commit to it for a 30 day Feel Great Challenge.
The change can be as simple as drinking more water every day, walking during every lunch break, cooking fresh food from scratch daily or doing the plank before meetings!
Each participant will be asked to report if they succeeded in their pledge so data can be evaluated to show the health and wellbeing impact.
By leading by example, staff can then act as ambassadors to their patients, colleagues and local communities on the importance of making healthy lifestyle changes.
Health Board Public Health Consultant Angela Jones said, “Being healthy and fit doesn’t have to be hard work and by pledging just one small change to your daily life you can help improve your health and feel so much better.
“We want everyone who takes part to think about how great they will feel when they have completed their 30 day challenge and then provide encouragement and support to continue with the change, start another and inspire others to join in.
“I can’t wait to see how many staff join in the Feel Great Challenge and inspire colleagues, patients and communities to see the benefit a change can make to health and wellbeing.”
The campaign will run for three months initially and aims to encourage around 1,000 of the 8,000 workforce to take part.
It is being launched as a response to a recent public health report from the health board ‘One More Healthy Behaviour’ which outlined the continuing need to tackle increasing levels of obesity, high levels of smoking and poor diets in the areas of Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf.
It also demonstrated that while there is a significant amount of information available about the risks of unhealthy lifestyles, behaviour change remains slow.
Evidence shows however that small, incremental changes can have impact, particularly if those changes are instigated and owned by people themselves.
As part of the campaign, a menu of pledges has been developed to help staff choose one small change or they can come up with their own.
It’s easy to sign up either online or by a simple form, and there will be lots of support and advice on hand to help participants succeed.
One group of staff at the health board’s headquarters in Abercynon have already pledged to join in the challenge by carrying out a ‘Loop at Lunchtime’.
The idea is simple; a few times a week colleagues meet up to go for a 15 to 30 minute walk along the Taff Trail to fit in with the working day.
The ‘Loop at Lunchtime’ was the brainchild of Ruth Treharne, Director of Planning and Performance, who was shocked when she was given a personal step tracker and realised how inactive life in the office can be.
“I noticed that I was far more active around the house at the weekend than I was in work and decided it was time to do something about it by making one small change,” she said.
“Now more than 30 of us are walking regularly and we are looking forward to encouraging more as we take part in the Feel Great Challenge.”
To support and enable staff to choose and commit to healthy behaviours, the health board is also making changes such as providing healthier food choices in its restaurants and vending machines. This includes ensuring all coffee outlets are only using skimmed and semi skimmed milk, providing fresh fruit in all its outlets and promoting healthier options and waters in its canteens.
Health Board Chief Executive Allison Williams, who is pledging to walk 10,000 steps a day as her Feel Great Challenge, said, “As an organisation, we want to help and support staff who would like to make changes for a healthier lifestyle, be it eat more healthily, do a bit more exercise, give up smoking or reduce their stress.
“We know that One Small Change can be built into every day and have a big impact. We are looking forward to feeling great!”
The #FeelGreat Challenge will be launched at in the foyer of the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, Llantrisant at 11am on Monday, March 27, and the dining room of Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil at 2pm.
Case Study One: Cycling Champion
Lymphoedema Clinical Lead Michelle Fishbourne, who works at Dewi Sant Hospital in Pontypridd, knows just how much impact can be made by making one small change.
From doing no exercise and being a size 24, she is now a Welsh cycling champion and a size 12 at the age of 50 – all thanks to a decision made to change her lifestyle.
She wanted to lose weight and decided to diet but knew she needed to become more active too. Running didn’t suit her but she enjoyed using the bike in the gym so decided to buy a road bike and joined Abercynon Cycling Club.
She found a real passion as well as talent for the sport. She was runner up in the Welsh Championships 50 miles time trial last September and won her age group category in the Celtic Series of seven 10 mile time trials.
A pinnacle of her cycling career was completing the Coast to Coast race in 12 hours, a gruelling 150 miles ride from Seascale in Cumbria to Whitby on the North Sea, including 12,000 feet of climbing.
Michelle has now decided to make one more small change – by reducing her alcohol intake as her pledge to the #FeelGreat Challenge.
She said, “Drinking alcohol is just empty calories and it interferes with my cycling training as I don’t train as well after a drink.
“I’m looking forward to the 30 day challenge and seeing the benefit it brings. I would encourage everyone in the health board to make one small change to their lifestyle too. Just look at the difference it has made to me!
“It has all been about small steps forward and you can feel your energy levels and confidence rising.
“My goal was to feel fitter, healthier and happier, which is how I feel as a result. Never think I can’t do that.”
Case Study Two: Porters with Pedometers
Porters at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant aim to clock up the miles as part of the #FeelGreat Challenge.
David Szigetvari and Carl Gazzi will record their steps on pedometers for 30 days as they aim to improve their fitness regimes.
David also plans to give up his favourite snack of cheese and fresh bread, and is replacing sugar in his tea with sweetener.
Carl, 50, has been a porter for 10 years and thinks he probably walks around five miles a day at work but a pedometer will give him the full facts.
“I would recommend walking as a way to keep fit,” said the former centre forward for Tylorstown Albion. “This is part of our daily routine and it will be interesting to see how far we walk in our jobs. We are really looking forward to completing our challenge and inspiring others to make a small change that could make a big difference.”