Making workplace health a priority

Workplace health is proving to be a priority in the fit-out of the new Gippsland Lakes Community Health (GLCH) development in Bairnsdale, with around 70 sit-to-stand desks included as part of the office furniture rollout, at their newly renovated building at 66 McCulloch Street in Bairnsdale.

“Sit-to-stand”, “stand-up” or “sit-stand” desks, as they’re typically called, deliver a multitude of benefits to users such as enhanced productivity and focus, improved concentration, greater energy, reduced back discomfort, and decreased sedentary behaviour.

In 2016/17, as part of GLCH’s commitment to review health and wellbeing strategies for staff, an org-wide study took place to assess the pros and cons of using sit-stand workstations in the workplace. The eight-week pilot trial was undertaken by 11 staff members who each tested the impact of a standing workstation. Of the 40 per cent of participants with a pre-existing medical condition (which ranged from a foot injury to lower back issues and more serious back injuries), 70 per cent agreed the sit-stand workstation had a positive impact on their medical condition. These impacts included less discomfort when alternating between sitting and standing, while having the option to sit or stand depending on comfort and daily pain levels, was found to be beneficial for pain management.

The fact is, the human body is designed to be in motion; but in today’s workplace, many of us sit more than nine hours a day – at our desks, in meetings and during our commute. And it doesn’t get any better at home, because in a 65-year life span the average person will have sat in front of a TV for more than nine years!

In a workplace environment, prolonged sitting can damage you physically, mentally and emotionally which, naturally, impacts on productivity. Studies beyond the GLCH walls have indicated that two thirds of employees feel disengaged, dispirited and fatigued at work, and sedentary behaviour is a leading cause. Considering all of this it’s no wonder that, on average, 67 per cent of desk workers dislike sitting, and 75 per cent of employees welcome the idea of introducing more movement and less sitting while at work.

Of his experience with a sit-to-stand desk James Owen, GLCH’s Men’s Behaviour Change Program Facilitator says, “I’ve had access to the stand-up desk for well over 12 months now. In the beginning, it took no time to become accustomed to and I’ve had nothing but positive outcomes since. For instance, typically my days are spent working at my desk, interacting with my colleagues, and moving in and out of the office for varies administrative tasks like photocopying, and so, for the most part, I’m standing up – but since using the desk, I no longer feel fatigued throughout the day.”

The rollout of these sit-stand desks is one small part of the multi-million dollar capital works project that will see GLCH expand their operating premises to include a two-storey extension linking 66 McCulloch Street to its existing premises at 281 Main Street.

“The project commenced at the end of last year and so far we are tracking well for completion later this year,” explains GLCH Chief Executive Officer, Sue Medson OAM of the expansion progress. “Shortly we’ll be relocating the existing reception area to enable us to start upgrading our existing premises at 281 Main Street, but we’ll ensure all changes are clearly sign-posted so the disruption to our visitors is as minimal as possible.”

The expansion will cater for the exponential growth in GLCH’s aged care, disability, family violence, allied and other health services, as well as providing additional meeting rooms and consulting spaces.

“Currently our staff in Bairnsdale move between premises, so this will enable all staff to be on one site, which will reduce waiting times as well as help us deliver the additional services needed by the community,” says Ms Medson.

For more information about the expansion or upgrade, contact GLCH.

Working hard to recruit GPs

The difficulties in attracting and retaining doctors to rural areas is nothing new and is being felt in rural and regional towns across the country.

“It’s no secret that here in Lakes Entrance we are currently experiencing a shortage of general practitioners,” said Sue Medson OAM, chief executive officer at Gippsland Lakes Community Heath “and next month we will say goodbye to Dr. Darren Irvine from the medical clinic.”

The good news is that GLCH is actively recruiting for GPs.

“We are currently working very hard to develop strategies and resources to attract more doctors to come and work in this beautiful part of the country,” explained Ms Medson. “We are also working in partnership with Rural Workforce Agency Victoria and other medical recruitment agencies to help us to identify doctors who will value the great lifestyle that Lakes Entrance offers.”

In the meantime, with the busy flu season already in full swing, GLCH are asking patients to understand that appointments will be harder to get than usual and that their helpful customer service team are doing their best to meet your needs and those of other patients.

New partnerships encourage healthy eating in the workplace

Gippsland Lakes Community Health (GLCH) is excited to announce a new collaborative partnership to encourage healthier eating within some of the largest organisations in East Gippsland.

Funded by the East Gippsland Primary Care Partnership, the “Healthy Eating Workplace Partnership” aims to increase employee exposure to healthy eating choices in the workplace and decrease access to discretionary foods that are high in sugar, fat, salt and kilojoules.

“Research indicates there is a link between healthier food and increased productivity, greater creativity, reduced absenteeism and an enhanced sense of happiness and satisfaction,” explains Angela Ellis, Executive Director of the Community Health Services Unit at GLCH. “For example, it’s currently estimated that around 54 per cent of adults in East Gippsland are overweight or obese, and with higher rates of heart disease and high blood pressure than the state’s average. In addition, 14 per cent of people in East Gippsland report experiences of high psychological distress; better nutrition can help to enhance mental wellbeing.”

“Within participating workplaces, this much-needed project will increase access to healthier food, as well as educate employees through the development and distribution of a healthy catering document and supporting resources.”

Some of the organisations already involved in the project include East Gippsland Shire Council, East Gippsland Water, East Gippsland Ports, Catchment Management Authority, Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation, Federation Training, and motor groups such as Hyundai and Mazda.

“If your workplace or business would like to become involved, contact GLCH for more information,” says Ms Ellis.

By enhancing knowledge around healthy food choices, the project is expected to help build the confidence and capacity of some 2,000 employees across the region, to help them to live a healthier life.
To find out more contact GLCH on 5155 8300.

Not one, but two Men’s Shed in Lakes Entrance

Men’s Sheds are typically places where blokes of varying ages and abilities can regularly get together to socialise and build things for their local community. These groups offer social, emotional and other benefits for participants as they provide a place to belong, a sense of purpose, and opportunities to enhance self-esteem and confidence. In Australia, there are almost 1,000 Men’s Sheds around the country, making it one of the largest male-based community development opportunities.

Did you know, in Lakes Entrance we’re lucky enough to have not just one but two Men’s Sheds?

The Lakes Entrance Men’s Shed Inc is located at 10 Coates Road, and currently has around 80 to 90 members, with new people always welcome to join. Activities on offer include woodwork, metalwork and cooking and the Shed is open for business (aka “fun”!) every weekday from 9am to 4pm.

The second one is called the Gippsland Lakes Men’s Shed. This is a social support group, which is located at the back of 30 Jemmeson Street and is delivered by Gippsland Lakes Community Health (GLCH).

Angela Ellis, Executive Manager of Community Health Services Unit at GLCH says “It’s great that the town can provide multiple options where men can go and get together to build things and socialise.”

“The men who attend our social support group enjoy many health benefits as a result, which comes from regularly being around and interacting with other people, from keeping their brains challenged through activities such as woodwork; from successfully cultivating a veggie garden; and by being able to give back to the community.”

“While having the two groups in the one town may occasionally cause confusion among residents,” adds Ms Ellis, “the bottom line is, the men in Lakes Entrance are definitely not short of choice when it comes to finding a place to go where they can make friends, build things, and feel good about themselves.”

To find out more about the Lakes Entrance Men’s Shed call 5155 3548, or to learn more about GLCH’s social support group phone 5155 8300.

Changing lives three minutes at a time

Last year, Latrobe Community Health Service (LCHS) received a $125,200 grant from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, to develop and implement the “Telkaya Project”.

“Telkaya” is an Indigenous word meaning “to improve, to be peaceful and to be well” and the aim of this program is to train allied health professionals, nurses and Aboriginal health workers from healthcare providers across Gippsland, how to recommend lifestyle changes to their clients in tactful and culturally-sensitive ways.

The project is a collaboration between LCHS, Gippsland Lakes Community Health (GLCH), Monash University Department of Rural Health, and Ramahyuck Aboriginal District Corporation. The online training package is expected to be rolled out around August 2019 and research will be conducted in the future, to assess the effectiveness of the training package

“The Telkaya Project will teach healthcare professionals how to have three-minute, non-confrontational ‘healthy chats’ with clients, which focus on lifestyle changes around smoking, nutrition, alcohol and physical activity,” explains Angela Ellis, Executive Manager of the Community Health Unit at GLCH.

“When it comes to smoking, alcohol use, exercise and healthy eating habits, research suggests that a short, sharp discussion (which includes advice) with a primary healthcare professional can encourage people to make lifestyle changes or access support services,” adds Ms Ellis.

To find out more contact GLCH.

At the end of your life, what matters most?

This year’s National Palliative Care Week (19-20 May) involved the theme, ‘What Matters Most?’, which asked Australians to reflect on what would be most important to them if they became seriously unwell.

“Dying is a normal part of life so it is important for all Australians to have discussions about death and dying and they type of care they would want to receive if they could no longer speak for themselves,” says Cheryl Bush, executive Manager of Clinical and Nursing Services at Gippsland Lakes Community Health (GLCH).

“By having a conversation with loved ones and health professionals, people can ensure their treatment and care best aligns with their values and preferences regarding both the type and place of care and place of death,” Ms Bush adds.

GLCH has a team of compassionate staff who provide specialist health care and practical support to people who have advanced disease or a life-limiting illness. The GLCH Palliative Care team includes the Home Based Nursing team who have specific qualification or expertise in palliative care providing care as needed 7 days per week, along with a Nurse Practitioner and Psychosocial Support Worker who work collaboratively toward supporting local GPs and community based nursing services across East Gippsland in the provision of palliative care.

GLCH offers an Advance Care Planning service where people can plan ahead for their future health and personal care needs, in the event they become unable to make decisions themselves. A registered nurse, who is trained in Advance Care Planning is available by appointment to talk to you and your family members at home or in your office. The nurse will provide information, resources and guidance to help you create your individualised plan.

Nursing staff can also deliver an introductory session called “Making The Last Chapter Reflect The Whole Book”, which is ideal for small community groups who are interested in planning for their future.

To find out more about palliative care and end-of-life services, contact the nursing team at GLCH on 5155 8300.

Palliative Care team

Pictured (L-R) – Gippsland Lakes Community Health’s Palliative Care team: Selena Van Overdyk, Sarah Patterson, Luke Williams NP, Amanda Crombie, Michael Flynn and Barbara Phillips