What’s a wellness program?
A wellness program is a group of services or activities that employers make available to benefit the health of their employees.
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations invest in these programs because a healthy workforce has many advantages.
First, wellness services and activities help relieve stress. Working as a certified nursing assistant is stressful, that's no secret. Other than the heavy workload, there can also be emotional trauma brought about by difficult patients and coworkers. CNAs can also experience poor working conditions, lack of resources, short-staffing, and lack of management support, all of which contribute to constant pressure at work.
Second, healthy employees mean fewer medical errors committed by staff, improving patient safety. Employers face less legal fees with fewer cases brought about by these errors. (Healthy employees also mean lower turnover and less sick leave, the costs of which are also high.)
Third, studies show that healthcare workers (CNAs included) have one of the highest rates of obesity and chronic disease compared to others in the workforce. They also use emergency room services more often.
These are enough reasons why nursing assistants should take advantage of wellness programs offered by their institutions. Here’s a list that can serve as a guide to the types of wellness programs your employer might offer:
1. Health Risk Assessment (HRA) and Biometrics Screening
HRAs are like snapshots of a person's health status, obtained by information about their risks for certain diseases. Working on the prevention level, HRAs serve as eye openers to what may be a future health problem and encourages workers to make healthy lifestyle choices to prevent these diseases.
HRAs often go hand in hand with biometric screenings, which are simple, quick physical exams done by a nurse. A biometric screening includes height and weight measurements, vital signs, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, among others.
For biometrics, you will have to undergo a blood test. The results of these measurements give a fair idea of the likelihood of chronic disease. These first two wellness programs are highly recommended so CNAs can be one step ahead of debilitating chronic diseases.
2. Safety Programs
Safety programs are required by OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which aims to remove hazards in the workplace and provide a harm-free work environment.
Wellness programs complement these requirements and may include training on proper body mechanics as well as encouraging adequate rest and proper communication to avoid errors that can harm patients or coworkers.
3. Immunization Programs
Nursing assistants must take advantage of this offer. Healthcare workers are at high risk of exposure to infectious diseases, so it is required or highly advisable to receive all recommended vaccinations.
4. Stress Management
This program caters to many areas of a worker's wellbeing, from physical conditioning to mental health. This program can include counseling, therapy and support, personal coaching, and recreational facilities available to employees. Hospitals and other agencies may introduce yoga and meditation sessions, employee retreats, and regular get-togethers. They can also prioritize work-life balance by offering flexible schedules and longer shifts with fewer workdays.
Some institutions manage to also improve the environment by providing comfortable chairs and lounges. Another great way to support stress management is to participate in anti-bullying campaigns, which aim to stop aggressive colleague behavior and improve workplace culture.
5. Healthy Food Options
This agenda relates to the strong link between poor diet and chronic disease. Employers have become creative in offering healthy food and drink choices. From color-coding food choices in the cafeteria to providing free fruit and vegetable baskets on certain days of the week, these programs aim to develop smart eating habits in the workforce.
6. Weight Loss Programs
These wellness initiatives are also very popular. They include education, counseling, dieting, and increased physical activity. Institutions usually support some types of sports or offer exercise programs, such as Zumba classes and gym amenities.
7. Smoking Cessation Programs
Smoking is an unhealthy habit linked to many chronic diseases. Wellness programs hope to encourage workers to quit smoking altogether.
8. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
EAPs assist employees with personal issues and problems, to prevent them from affecting their work performance. It includes help for alcohol and substance abuse, child or elder care, financial or legal problems, and workplace violence.
Wellness programs do a lot of good for employers and employees alike. When your organization comes up with new agendas, support them and participate where appropriate. Not only do these programs offer incentives such as recognition and rewards, they truly can help employees get (or stay) healthy and keep moving forward.
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