Healthy workers are the backbone of the social and economic development of Barbados.
Minister of Health, John Boyce, made this assertion today when he officially opened the Psychiatric Hospital’s new staff gym at Black Rock, St. Michael.
The minister pointed out that employees spend “one-third of their adult working lives” in the workplace and were responsible for the output or the Gross Domestic Product of the country. He acknowledged that the facility, which was 10 years in the making, was more than just a gym but it was also part of the hospital’s workplace wellness programme.
“Workplace wellness programmes engage workers in learning how to be healthy and provide opportunities for them to practise what they have learned. Additionally, it should be known that studies done in developed countries showed that investments in workplace wellness have translated into higher productivity, improvement in staff morale as well as fewer sick days and lower medical costs.
“Workplaces that can achieve such indicators make them the places where people want to work and to do business,” he told the audience, which included, nurses, doctors and other staff.
Boyce said that it was important in light of the rising epidemic of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, strokes and cancers in Barbados, that persons engage in more physical activity — particularly those whose jobs were sedentary in nature.
He lauded the Health Promotion Unit of the ministry of Health for setting the example by providing line dancing, aerobics, tai chi and Zumba sessions for its staff. This model, he noted, had been replicated in other Government departments as well as in the private sector.
The minister, however, warned both management and staff of the hospital that in order for the wellness programme there to be successful it needed the support and collaboration of all involved.
“Both sides must get together to plan and execute wellness activities in order to maximise the benefits of this investment,” he emphasised.
Acting director of the hospital, David Leacock, said the gym was the vision of his predecessor, Tennyson Springer, now the acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health. He said it was only recently that they received the funding needed to renovate the facilities and equip the gym.
“We recognise that being in a psychiatric setting is stressful at most times so persons need a place where they can de-stress and to ensure that we have a good balance between our work life and our personal life. We must have activities that we can engage in that allow us to take away some of those stressors,” he added.