Kailo: an award-winning approach to workplace wellness

1560

Mini-massages… creative visualization… aromatherapy… these are only a few elements of Kailo, a new innovative and award winning workplace wellness program, being piloted by Halton Healthcare Services (HHS) at its Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital and Milton District Hospital sites to support employee wellness at work. And while this new approach was only one of many initiatives profiled in the organization’s recent application for the Ontario Hospital Association’s (OHA) Healthy Hospital Innovators Award, its groundbreaking ingenuity was – no doubt – instrumental in cinching this prestigious award for HHS.

“The Kailo Concept was created in response to an in-depth study of the unique health and wellness concerns of health-care workers at Mercy Medical Center in North Iowa, United States in 1997. There it proved itself invaluable in decreasing annual sick days, workers’ compensation claims and employee turnover rates, while increasing employee satisfaction and connection with their fellow health-care workers,” explains Bonnie Harrow, Vice-President of Support Services at HHS. “The program has since received international recognition as one of the most progressive health promotion efforts in the United States, including a ‘best practice’ designation by the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and a Platinum Well Workplace Award by the Wellness Councils of America. In addition, the American Hospital Association has highlighted Kailo as one of the most innovative workplace practices in the U.S. health-care industry.”

HHS received funding from Health Canada’s Healthy Workplace Initiative to implement Kailo as a two-year pilot project commencing June 1st, 2005 to May 31st, 2007 and is based on the successful work originated by the Mercy Medical Center. Since its launch in September, where staff attended a lunch and talk on how to Add More Living to Your Life by Bob Mangroo, a renowned motivational speaker, staff have enjoyed a variety of regular yoga, tai chi and relaxation sessions, as well as Kailo Breaks and Lunch’n Learns. Many staff have also enrolled in an eight week mindfulness based stress reduction program. Kailo initiatives are offered to all employees, physicians and volunteers free of charge and often include lunch or refreshments.

“Kailo focuses less on the traditional goals of reducing biomedical risk factors for illness, and more on bolstering physical, psychological, and spiritual factors for health. Its motto, ‘Caring for ourselves as well as we care for our patients’, recognizes that, as caregivers, we have to take time to look after ourselves so we can reach out to others more effectively,” adds Anna Rizzotto, Kailo Coordinator at HHS. “And with its many diverse components – Kailo has something for everyone – from cooking classes and brain gym to crafts and nutrition – all designed to nurture the body and the mind. In 2006, we will also offer Kailo for One, a program designed to support and help employees cope with stress, anxiety, relationships and other personal issues.”

“HHS is working with Dr. John Yardley from the Workplace Health Research Unit of Brock University to evaluate the program. Evaluations from Kailo programs/events have been favourable and are currently being collated by volunteers,” explained Mrs. Rizzotto. “To date, 480 employees – over a quarter of staff – have completed a membership form and received a free Kailo t-shirt. With the introduction of each new feature of Kailo, we anticipate continued support and involvement. So far the response has been astounding.”

“I never thought about the importance of taking a relaxation break during my workday – never had the time for such things. Now I realize how vital and refreshing it can be,” noted one enthusiastic participant after a session on relaxation techniques. “I am more focused and consequently more productive and I have a more positive outlook with which to face the rest of my day.”

“Kailo has been amazing. The information, the support and the diversion it offers has been invaluable in helping me achieve balance in my life both at work and at home,” notes another participant. “But Kailo is not just an activity or an event – it’s something you experience – as you become more perceptive to your needs and the needs of others.”

“Helping our people achieve a healthy work-life balance while providing them with a better environment at work is key to empowering them to achieve new heights,” notes Ms. Harrow. “Our ultimate goal, of course, is an increasingly happier and relaxed workforce. I think Kailo is well on its way to achieving this in our hospitals!”

For more information on Kailo, visit the website of Mercy Medical Centre at www.kailo.org or contact Anna Rizzotto, Kailo Coordinator, Halton Healthcare at 905-845-2571 ext. 6436 or arizzotto@haltonhealthcare.on.ca