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Home care staff walk length of Australia’s perimeter for lockdown wellbeing

With virtual fitness challenges increasingly popular during lockdown, BaptistCare’s home care employees decided to use the first month of spring to focus on exercise and heart health, with extraordinary results.

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Monday 25 October, 2021

Accepting the challenge to walk as many steps as they could, 207 care service employees, facilitators and managers walked 39,568 kilometres – more than the perimeter of Australia’s coastline – clocking up 55,728,961 steps.

“We saw a huge number of staff come on board with this initiative, as part of a team where competition was certainly alive and well,” explains Nathan Hall, BaptistCare’s Health and Well-Living Manager.

There were several outcomes Nathan was looking to achieve for the organisation’s home care team, including a focus on employee wellbeing during the difficult time of lockdown, being active and a focus on heart health.

With the average age of BaptistCare’s at Home team at 48, and heart health increasingly important as people age, it made sense to Nathan that it was a great opportunity to get staff out and about with positive outcomes.

“It was about our individual staff seeing the benefit of getting active, or increasing their activity, and also understanding the benefits of exercise on heart health.”

Before commencing, BaptistCare surveyed its home care team to find that only 21% were meeting the recommended 150 or more minutes per week of physical activity guidelines.

“While this wasn’t especially surprising – we all lead busy lives and being active can become a lower priority – we saw an opportunity for improvement that would also realise great personal benefits for our employees,” said Nathan.

By the end of September, 55% of participating employees had met those guidelines, making exercise part of their weekly routine.

“We saw our Hunter and Central Coast team taking out the prize for reaching just under 400,000 steps on average each week, and they were closely followed by our team located on the NSW Mid North Coast,” said Nathan.

Meanwhile, Fiona Ferreira, an Administration Coordinator in Western Sydney, walked an incredible 998,904 steps alone, taking out first place for her effort.

For Nathan, it was clear that working in the aged care sector means the focus is always on the health of clients, and employees can forget to check in on themselves.

“This activity gave our employees a chance to evaluate and reflect on their own wellbeing, being encouraged to ‘know their numbers’ (blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels) and consider how their lifestyles might be impacting those numbers in positive or negative ways.”

“Heart disease accounts for 17.1% of all deaths in Australia. Risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are often not diagnosed and can become a silent threat, which is why there was a strong call to action to know your number as part of this wellbeing initiative.”

“It’s globally recognised that preventing cardiovascular disease is possible with some changes to lifestyle, and we wanted to tick off one of those key factors – getting our heart and lungs pumping by getting active – and in a way that would also have our staff feeling good about things.”

“I’m blown away that more than putting heart health into focus for BaptistCare’s home care team, we were able to connect on something so positive together, while being apart.”

“Aged care can be a challenging space to work in, not least when there’s a health pandemic happening, so this was really something to bring wellbeing into the spotlight for us.”

BaptistCare’s at home team of care workers, Registered Nurses, Allied Health professionals and Care Facilitators support people to be well, think well and connect well in their own homes in 1,287 suburbs across NSW and the ACT.