Looking after the health and wellbeing of New Zealand’s largest DHB by population, with over 500,000 residents, is no small feat. Counties Manukau Heath has extended their health focus into the transport sector, taking a wellbeing approach towards enabling greater travel choices.
Sustainability Officer, Debbie Wilson, says Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) is committed to sustainability and creating a healthy workforce.
“As an organisation, we try to be sustainable and promote fitness and wellbeing with programmes such as health checks and campaigns to get people moving", says Debbie, "travel planning fits in with our wider goals”.
Parking and infrastructure improvements
With over 7,000 staff plus 5,000 new residents added to the DHB’s service area each year the number of people accessing CM Health’s clinics and hospitals is ever growing. Recognising this and the need for socially-equitable travel solutions, CM Health has created an efficient parking management system while promoting sustainable travel choices to staff CM Health.
The health board now has 8 dedicated carpooling bays for staff, enforced user permits, secure bike parking for up to 40 bikes, and end of trip facilities to support staff choosing to walk or cycle.
Promoting travel choices
CM Health has been a part of AT’s Travelwise Choices programme since it’s inception and Debbie says it’s been a win-win. Starting from the success of CM Health’s travel plan, we’ve spent the last few years delivering on the targets outlined, specifically in shifting staff travel away from cars.
CM Health has seen their greatest success come from promotions and challenges, helped along by AT-provided workshops, training sessions, and trials. AT now holds bi-monthly events at CM Health, attracting nearly 400 attendees per year and offering a wide array of travel incentives.
They have also worked to develop better wayfinding around their hospitals and include travel information near the entrances. Staff are given travel information in their induction packs and AT-created pamphlets highlighting local travel information are readily available.
For all their work in working towards their travel plan to promote wellbeing in transport, CM Health won the 2015 Travelwise Choices Award ‘Commute Step-it-Up’.
Some key achivements
CM Health’s active travel challenge encouraged staff to increase their physical activity and record active trips across 2 weeks. Feedback from the participants showed high levels of commitment, and sustained behaviour change. After the 2-week period ended, 86% of staff who had signed up for the challenge had increased their active travel with 96% stating that the challenge had motivated them to continue being more active.
AT-provided cycle trainings and workshops are always a favourite with multiple staff switching to commuting by bike afterwards. Plus, Debbie has managed to negotiate staff rates at a local bike shop to help those who want to make the switch but need a bike.
AT’s Give it a Go public transport trial has been successful at CM Health. Despite the large number of shift workers, public transport is proving popular with employees. Being able to relax and listen to music or read a book on their commute home is a real incentive for many hard-working staff to make the switch.
CM Health has a dedicated carpool matching service for employees to find colleagues to travel with. Carpooling has helped employees make new friends, relieved some pressure on their wallets and removed congestion from the roads – making journeys faster for everyone.
CM Health is excited to continue working with AT’s Travelwise Choices team to continue their journey towards better travel choices. For Debbie, it’s important that this programme links to multiple organisational goals and objectives, such as sustainability, wellbeing or staff efficiency.
She understands the need for open communication between the Travel Planners, the organisation and the staff. She’s looking forward to reinforcing this open communication and encouraging a wellbeing approach towards transport through ongoing participation in the Travelwise Choices programme.