The Importance of a Healthy and Informed Workforce in Early Years

As healthcare professionals working with and supporting children and adults in healthcare, education and childcare sectors, we are aware and understand the demands of working at low heights (which also involve a significant amount of moving and handling) and understand both the consequences of repetitive poor postures and risky manual handling techniques.

In addition, we are familiar with the benefits of being part of a well-oiled (supportive, professional and openly communicative) team for our own wellbeing, health and best outcomes for the children we treat.

The experiences of the children on our caseload (and their families) depend on us – maybe this is a timely reminder about the importance of our own health and wellbeing. Take the break, brew the tea, eat the cake, go for the run – whatever just for you!

We can only give when we are capable of giving.

I’m proud the be a physio and to have received the training we do to allow us to make informed decision to protect our health at work, especially my back. Yes, I’ve taken “it will be ok risks” early on in my career as I am sure many of us have when short of time or on my own etc but have weighed up the consequences and made an informed decision.

From working with schools and early years providers, I have been made frequently aware of concerning and upsetting practices which are affecting and injuring those working within education and childcare sectors. There are numerous risks of low height working, which as trained professionals, we know. Hopefully with improved awareness we can help improve the working environment for so many and can actively share a part in health promotion and creating healthier workplaces with our knowledge and skills.

Recently I contacted the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies health and safety programme lead at University of Derby and was surprised to discover undergraduate students, our future teaching and childcare practitioners, receive no training about musculoskeletal health and low height working risks.

I’ve volunteered to talk to undergraduates as part of their “enabling environments” module, in addition to paediatric physiotherapy health and child development for EYFS (0-8 year olds) – if we can help reduce back problems for practitioners before they start and enable potential earlier diagnosis for children with additional physical needs via increased awareness and onward referral, that would be brilliant!

Alistair Turvill, H&S programme lead said “We’re pleased to offer our undergraduate students information about   considering the risks of low height working, especially when engaging in childcare settings. The importance of a healthy and informed workforce in the early years is more important than ever, and developments in this area, such as those available from Jolly Back are a critical part of this”.

Another university development I’ve heard of recently is at University of Northumbria where occupational health services are offered to students on healthcare and education courses, in addition to manual handling training. This is an exciting positive step and hopefully will be initiated in other universities to improve the health and wellbeing of future nursing, therapy and education practitioners.

If you have a university nearby and would like to offer childcare practitioner training, have stories to share or any questions, please do get in touch as it would be great to hear from you. Contact Us

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