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Locum Health & Well-Being Initiative

On Tuesday 22nd January 2019 I attended Northern Ireland's first Financial Well-being conference, kindly hosted by Kith & Kin in Belfast. This conference was mainly focused toward HR Managers and how we could implement an advice service for our staff's financial well-being. Debt solutions, mortgage advice and budget planning were a few of the topics discussed. The running of the event can be found at the bottom of this blog.


Throughout 2018 we decided as a business to research the health & well-being services being offered to locum staff across Northern Ireland. We found many interesting initiatives for permanent staff but little for locums. At Keenan Healthcare we have a deep respect for the work that our locum staff do on a daily basis, ranging throughout various sectors and many front-line working. We are proud to have a close community with our locum staff and as you will see through the testimonials on our website, many have commented on the 'team feel' that they have through our agency. 


After several private conversations with some of our locums regarding financial difficulty and how it was impacting poorly on their health, I felt we had to support them. Kith & Kin are a Social Enterprise that provides financial well-being and access to financial advice for employers and employees in Northern Ireland. This is one agency that we will be working with moving forward.  


We are delighted to announce that Keenan Healthcare is now working with several external bodies to develop and implement our innovative new section of Keenan Healthcare, the Locum Health & Well-Being Initiative which will go live at Easter 2019. 

This will see a platform offered for all of our locum staff to access free of charge, confidentially and be signposted for professional help and advice with various areas of their life. Should it be advice on budgeting, debt, pensions, investments or for information on nutrition and exercise we will have regular webinars available, and clinics. There will be deals available for discounted gym membership and certain things to take us away from our working life such as a book review club!! 


Why is this important to us at Keenan Healthcare? We want our locum staff to know that they count and that we as their employer are knowledgeable in their duty of care. We want to try and remove some barriers that they may have and support them to reduce stress. We are really excited about the launch at Easter and welcome any suggestions from our current locums, on what they could benefit from. 



The Financial Well-being conference facilitated by Kith & Kin:


The first guest speaker was Charles Cotton from CIPD - An expert on Finances and Employee Performance. Charles took us through the force that poor financial well-being has on employee health, which then has impact on employee productivity. It was noted that the average debt in Northern Ireland is higher than the rest of the UK. 48% of workers in Northern Ireland are not making adequate savings for retirement. 

A survey of 1000 Adults conducted by CIPD stated that biggest worry in Northern Ireland fell into the categories below:


  • Money   46% (2018)   37% (2017)
  • Family   15% (2018)   22% (2017)
  • Health   15% (2018)   18% (2017)
  • Work   11% (2018)   8% (2017)
  • Loneliness / social isolation   6% (2018)   8% (2017)


*All research / statistics on employee well-being can be found on the CIPD website.


Siobhan O'Neill, Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster university was next to talk to us and she focused on the 'impact of finances on your mental health'. Starting with our capacity to cope with stress, Siobhan highlighted the very high levels of anxiety in Northern Ireland. It was noted that financial stress is one that can lead to poor mental health, which in turn can lead to suicide. Siobhan gave the following statistics for suicide in Northern Ireland:


  • Around 300 deaths every year
  • Highest rate in the UK (approx 16 per 100,000)
  • Doubled in the last 20 years in NI.
  • Three times as many people as road accidents.
  • Debt/financial difficulties was recorded as a factor
  • In the under 20s, males were more likely to be unemployed (47.5% males; 17.5% females)


As Siobhan stated, these are PREVENTABLE and employers need to do more to look after the well-being of staff. There is still a stigma surrounding debt and financial crisis.... the 'what will people think?', the perception the person has, letting it build up in their head and facing reality. This can be very damaging and very dangerous. We need to work together to break this stigma. 


Employment Law Solicitor, Julie Leonard was the next guest speaker. Julie discussed the responsibility of Employers on well-being and financial well-being from a legal aspect. Discussing the Common law obligations (Duty of care) Julie relayed how employers should take all reasonable steps to ensure their employees' health, safety and well-being. The physical and mental well-being also fell under employers duty of care along with building trust and good employee relations. 


The final guest speaker was Sarah Jane Mowbrey, Head of Corporate Services at Usel. Sarah Jane spoke about the benefits of signing up for the Mental Health Charter and working toward a mentally healthy workplace. Sarah Jane spoke passionately about why Usel care about well-being, that they want their staff to feel valued and empowered. They want to reduce health risks and absenteeism within their workforce. She spoke about building and helping to sustain employee morale. Sarah Jane listed what Usel "the company" is responsible for, including a positive attitude to mental health and well-being, reducing stress and providing information for employees on positive coping mechanisms and general health. 


Thank you Kith & Kin for the invite to this inspiring and informative conference. The children from St Gerards choir complimented the ethos of the conference so well. They were simply fab!!!