When creating a healthy community, a good place to start is fostering a culture of health and wellness at your workplace. Here are some important elements to keep in mind for a successful onsite clinic that centers around the development of a wellness culture:
- Strong senior management support
- Coordinated benefit plan design that supports clinic use and health status improvement
- Environmental factors such as healthy choices in vending machines and cafeteria, smoke-free campus, opportunities for physical activity
It’s also important to remember that healthy lifestyles are contagious. After all, we are social animals and easily fall prey to the power of social influence. To capitalize on the power of social influence, and to help our clients create healthy communities of their own, in 2013, we announced a new program: Healthy Like Me. The idea was to start a movement of individuals who would tell their stories and influence others in creating a new norm for healthy living. The new norm would showcase individuals who grasped their own personal power in addressing health issues and, through health coaching and the support of their employers and coworkers, made life-changing improvements to their own health.
The first year of Healthy Like Me concluded in November 2014. The level of participation and the results that were reported in the shared stories exceeded our expectations. In total, the participants reported 294 healthy behavior changes (an average of 2 healthy behavior changes per participant). Some patients lost 100 pounds, one woman reversed a downward health spiral after she lost her husband to cancer, a truck driver who was a pack-a-day smoker for 40 years quit through health coaching.
To call them inspiring is an understatement. Here are some highlights of the year:
- 37 employer sites participated
- 161 people told their health story
- 106 people lost weight
- 67 of the people who lost weight reported their actual weight loss
- Individuals reported an average loss of 39 pounds
- 18 quit smoking
- 66 improved their lab results
- 111 changed their eating habits
- 99 got active
While the numbers tell an important story, the actual words of the participants are even more compelling:
“With all of the support, I know I can achieve my goal and be much healthier.” Sue at Tufts University, Medford, MA
Healthy lifestyles that begin at the workplace are carried into homes, and subsequently, schools, neighborhoods, communities. Watch it spread. It’s contagious.