By: Mary L. Collins
It’s no secret that wellness among those who provide care to others can often suffer from neglect. While it may be benign neglect, the fact is, nurses, LNAs, PCAs, homemakers, therapists and others in the direct care field can often place themselves last on the list of health and wellness.
The American Nurses Association defines a healthy caregiver as:
“one who actively focuses on creating and maintaining a balance and synergy of physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, personal and professional wellbeing. A healthy caregiver lives life to the fullest capacity, across the wellness/illness continuum, as they become stronger role models, advocates, and educators, personally, for their families, their communities and work environments, and ultimately for their patients.”
So, how do our caregivers manage their own needs?
By choosing nutritious foods and an active lifestyle, managing stress, living tobacco-free, getting preventive immunizations and screenings, and choosing protective measures such as wearing sunscreen and bicycle helmets, health care professionals and providers can set an example of how to be, themselves, healthy.
Lamoille Home Health & Hospice is dedicated to supporting its staff’s wellness by encouraging physical activity. Office staff are often seen walking the few miles each day around the health care campus on Washington Hwy that includes Copley Hospital, The Manor nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility, Copley Terrace, Morrisville Family Practice, and LHH&H’s offices. Staff can easily complete a two mile walk just by circling the campus. Many have invested in Fitbits to track their steps and activity. Most have dropped a few pounds in the process.
It is not only a physical benefit; the mental health benefits are also noted. According to Director of Nursing, Jennifer Beebe, “Nurses and caregivers are fully dedicated to their work, so much so, that we sometimes neglect our own health and wellness as we care for others. Lamoille Home Health is dedicated to providing the tools and resources our staff needs in order to stay physically and mentally healthy. It’s essential that we do in order to be examples to ourselves and to our patients.”
LHH&H has also received a grant from the Vermont Department of Health to launch our first Wellness Garden to benefit staff and families. If you agree with the adage, “Your body is your temple,” it starts with what we ingest, or don’t. LHH&H sees the wellness garden as a collective benefit and example for its staff and volunteers. All are invited to participate in the maintenance and harvest.
How does the wellness garden work?
Four years ago, the Vermont Department of Health, Vermont Community Garden Network, Gardener’s Supply Company, and Master Gardener, Charlie Nardozzi, started working together to create a way for small employers (under 100 people) to initiate a garden at their worksite. From that, the Green Thumbs at Work Program was born. Through it, cash grants are awarded to companies and nonprofit organizations through a competitive application process. The grants must be matched by the employer. Grantees also receive a gift certificate from Gardener’s Supply Company and technical assistance from the Vermont Community Garden Network and Nardozzi. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont provided more grant money to expand the program. To date, 26 employers in the state have started Green Thumbs at Work gardens. Eight more organizations were chosen to launch gardens in 2017. LHH&H is among those eight.
The LHH&H Garden will benefit staff, volunteers, and our clients. The support of the grant and donations from local organizations and businesses including the HA Manosh Corp., many community volunteers, and staff, including PCA, Peggy Sprague, who is donating ALL the starter plants from her own extensive home gardens, will help LHH&H to complete the garden and encourage good health habits among our employees. A bimonthly newsletter will be shared among staff, volunteers and patients and will include gardening tips, healthy recipes, and the benefits of eating certain vegetables and herbs.
The LHH&H Wellness Garden will provide much needed physical activity as well as the bounty of fresh produce harvested throughout the growing season. For more information, contact, Mary L. Collins, Marketing Director, Lamoille Home Health & Hospice at (802) 888-4651 or, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary L. Collins is the Marketing Director at Lamoille Home Health & Hospice. A 2014 Home Care Elite Top Agency, LHH&H is one of eleven VNAs of Vermont home health and hospice agencies serving Vermont. She also serves as Marketing Director at The Manor, a 4 star nursing home and short term rehabilitation facility in Morrisville, VT, and she chairs the Lamoille Region Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.