Wellness is a term we see used a lot, be it the physical therapy world or society at large. What does it mean? Is it a healthy diet? A regular exercise regimen? Maybe it’s about monitoring your mental and emotional health. We like to think of wellness as a positive state of being comprised of all of the aforementioned elements (and perhaps a couple more). Injury prevention, sleep habits—the list goes on.
So how do you go about promoting a culture of health and wellness in a physical therapy clinic?
3 Simple Steps to Promote Wellness for Your Clinic Staff
Any thriving clinic has a lot of pieces kept in motion by a lot of different people. From receptionists to therapists, a clinic’s staff can be quite diverse. Ask yourself: how can you promote wellness among patients when you don’t exemplify a culture of wellness among your own employees?
Here are a few good places to start:
- Promote Nutrition
By providing healthier options in your community refrigerators and break rooms, you help your team work better nutrition into their daily routines. Access to fresh bananas and apples, for example, can increase the likelihood that employees will reach for these as a healthy snack during those hours in between meals.
- Stay Hydrated
Everything starts with water, and for good reason. You only notice access to cold, filtered drinking water when you don’t have it. But providing access to filtered water will encourage better drinking habits. Try offering simple daily hydration goals (for example, a little sign that says “Nice Hydroflask! Try refilling it five times today”) and encouraging the use of reusable bottles.
- Make Exercise Available
We like to work exercise into our daily routine by scheduling optional “walking” meetings, breaks, and even lunches. This gives our team a physical and mental boost by getting us away from our screens and out into the fresh air.
3 Simple Steps to Promote Wellness for Your Patients
We’ve all been patients in our lifetimes, and we all know what it feels like to wait quietly in a boring, sterile medical office. We see this as a missed opportunity that can be used to promoted wellness in a few simple ways:
- Educate with Practical Messaging and Materials
Designing your messaging and materials with wellness in mind doesn’t have to mean cookie cutter photos of smiling models crossing finishing lines. We recommend a focus on practicality: posters, placards, and pamphlets that offer practical, understandable information that is pertinent to your visitors. Consider your audience and target their pain points. Maybe some useful information on the length and look of a typical rehabilitation cycle for a sprained ankle? Or a torn meniscus? Is a portion of your patients over the age of fifty? This crowd might benefit from specific strategies for avoiding the injuries most common to their age group. Give your employees and patients messaging and materials they can
- Provide Specific Workout Advice
Patients will feel empowered and encouraged when they leave your clinic with concrete exercise strategies—something more than “one half hour, three times a week.” Listen to your patients and pay attention to their interests. After all, working out shouldn’t be boring! How about a low-impact boxing class, or spinning? Ever heard of the 100-pushup challenge?Be specific and be ready to provide actual programs and locations: a great 30-minute abdominal routine from Beachbody that Alice from accounting likes to do; a local CrossFit gym that our clients have recommended in the past. If you do need ideas, poll your staff. Some might have great ideas from past employers, or from around the community.
- On-site Offerings
If you have the bandwidth and the budget, consider providing wellness classes and other programs outside of your regular physical therapy services. These can be great value-adds that get patients in the spirit of wellness.
If We Can Do It, You Can Do It
At AlterG, we offer yoga classes every Wednesday, provide healthy options in our pantry, access to filtered water, a gym with access to the Anti-Gravity Treadmill, and a suggestion box. We also encourage our employees to applaud their peers by providing words of affirmation through our “Defy Gravity” program—it’s a great way to stay motivated and keep our employees loving what they do. We’ve found that this positive environment rubs off on our patients, too.
There are many ways to integrate wellness activities and awareness into your clinic’s culture. We think the list above is a good place to start. Implement a few of these, and soon, wellness will be part of your clinic’s culture, among physicians and patients alike.