Wellness Awards pay dividends

Homeland Center incentivizing employees' all-around health

Last May, Homeland Center President and CEO Barry S. Ramper issued a challenge: Two employees who excelled at improving their well-being would receive a $2,500 award.

“For us to be the best we can be for the group of residents, patients, and clients who’ve entrusted their lives to us, we have to be at our personal best,” Barry said when he kicked off the challenge that features a winner from Homeland Center and one from Homeland At Home, which provides home-based personal assistance, skilled nursing care and hospice.

Winners of the 2019 Homeland Employee Well-Being Award were Homeland Center’s Amy Kidd, Assistant Director of Nursing and Dementia Unit Manager, and Melissa Harner, an intake coordinator for Homeland Hospice. Stacey Schroder, a social worker with Homeland Hospice, also won $1,000 in a raffle drawn for participants who earned a set well-being point minimum. Winners were announced on February 4 during a small award ceremony and celebration in the Homeland Center Diner.

To keep the momentum going and encourage higher levels of employee engagement, Barry announced a new round of the award scheduled to kick off March 1, 2020.

Homeland’s Employee Wellness Program Coordinator and Health Psychologist Dr. Roxane Hearn developed the initiative by consulting other colleagues in the field of corporate wellness, applying psychological theories of behavior change, and customizing the approach for Homeland. The structure allowed all employees to participate, whether they needed to make changes or were already leading healthy lifestyles.

Participants compiled points on well-being criteria contributing to physical, emotional, and financial wellness dimensions. Criteria to earn well-being points included but were not limited to maintaining or improving biometrics such as blood pressure and visceral fat, tracking caloric intake, using a meditation app and taking yoga classes, writing a letter of gratitude to someone special, and creating a personal budget.

“Most participants reported they already considered making changes to become healthier, but the introduction of the Well-Being Award gave them the extra push they needed to turn their intentions into actions,” says Dr. Hearn. “I enjoyed working with employees who had never sought out employee wellness services in the past because they considered themselves healthy. However, they were not considering all of the dimensions of health and wellness.”

Five years ago, Amy Kidd, won a different Homeland challenge, based solely on weight. She lost 50 pounds, but over time, bad habits crept back in. The Well-Being Award was her wake-up call.

“A lot of it wasn’t about weight loss,” says Amy, who started meditating for five minutes a day and practicing yoga, which eased her muscles after a long day. “It was about being well overall.”

Amy wrote her letter of gratitude to Dr. Hearn because “she’s constantly helping other people.”

Through it all, Amy’s biggest fan was her son, Vinny Beamer. He nudged her not to eat cookies, and he sat patiently through her yoga class.

“I try to instill positivity in his life and make him strive always to be great,” Amy says. “He’s been coming to Homeland since he was born. He has a volunteer badge and helps with bingo. When he hugs somebody, it’s nice to see the enjoyment on their face.”

The eye-opener that encouraged Melissa Harner to enroll was her sister-in-law’s battle with ovarian cancer.

“This will help me help her,” she says. She wrote her gratitude letter to that sister-in-law, expressing admiration for her courage.

With Dr. Hearn’s coaching, Melissa learned about maintaining a balanced diet and eating more fruits and vegetables. Melissa’s husky-German shepherd mix, Cocoa, motivates her to get moving twice daily, while she also discovered the joy of yoga.

“I would never have thought I would like it,’’ she says. “Now, it is something I plan to continue.’’

Melissa is proud that she improved her lifestyle. Her winnings will go toward the family’s Outer Banks vacation.

Both winners say Homeland’s commitment to its employees means better care in turn for residents and clients.

“When you’re feeling good about yourself, you instill those factors into others, as well,” Amy says. “You encourage your coworkers to want to do better and eat right. It puts you into a happier place to deal with stressors. If you’re in a better place for yourself, you’re able to be more functional for the care of our clients and residents.”

 
Zoom A+ A- Reset