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    Opinion: The road from paramedic to corporate responsibility

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    Having started out as a paramedic, Damien Cominos went on to launch Spa Medical Services after witnessing absences due to mental health in the workplace. Here, he reveals why he launched Spa Medical, and how he aims to improve employees’ wellness.

    When I look back it seems impossible that the things I was doing on those cold night shifts in Crowborough as a paramedic could eventually be part of a corporate responsibility. It’s not a road I set out to navigate, indeed the abstract in the suggestion means I probably would have failed if it had have been a goal. So, here’s my story.

    Contrary to popular belief being a paramedic isn’t all about going to horrendous car crashes and cardiac arrests; of course, those things did make up part of my work but they were vastly outweighed by less drastic events. Perhaps I would see an elderly lady who had fallen indoors and simply couldn’t get off the floor, or somebody with chest pain that turned out to be an infection, or a lad with a broken ankle after playing football – the list goes on but what all of these events had in common was that as a paramedic I would do more than just solve the presenting problem – unless it was for some reason inappropriate all my patients would get ECG, blood sugar tests, blood pressure measurements, and many more tests as a standard response. Surprisingly often I found ailments of some form or another which were completely beyond the reasons for the call; some were already known to the patients and some were not.

    Where unknown anomalies were discovered I would inform their GP, and I thought to myself what if people could have all these tests without calling an ambulance? I imagined the good it could do and embarked on a plan to launch such a service. Around a year into these plans I become one of those annoying people that unexpectedly came into a large amount of money; suffice to say it was enough to give me the financial confidence to leave the ambulance service and launch Spa Medical Services.

    “One of the biggest areas of concern (and a challenge we rose to) is mental health among employees – it’s a huge problem which accounts for a massive amount of absence.”

    In the beginning we only did these medicals (health assessments) for private clients in their homes, but as time moved on our services evolved and increased and we marketed ourselves towards corporate clients who had an interest in the wellness of their employees. In 2016 we launched a range of innovative services to complement our health assessments (some of which can’t be found anywhere else).

    One of the biggest areas of concern (and a challenge we rose to) is mental health among employees – it’s a huge problem which accounts for a massive amount of absence. To tackle this our mental health nurse worked with our web designer to create our mental health self-assessment portal; it tests for stress, anxiety and depression, and is fully supported by our in-house mental health nurse, and our clients’ employees have unlimited access to it through our website.

    Our health assessments are comprehensive and without exception are always performed by qualified and registered healthcare professionals; our health promotion includes a bi-annual wellness magazine, posters and monthly email campaigns. We also offer dietary consultations, personal training advice, a health advice service and much more.

    The combination of these services allows us to provide bespoke high-quality wellness solutions to our corporate clients.

    Health

    In addition we have just launched a great range of occupational health services which include:

    • Sickness absence management
    • Occupational health surveillance and COSHH surveillance
    • New employee screening and health surveillance
    • Management of ill-health retirement
    • Risk assessments (eg COSHH and manual handling)
    • Ergonomic advice

    We know that there is generally an overlap between wellness services and occupational health services, but the great thing about having such a vast range of both under one roof is that the two services don’t need to be separated and we can provide elements of each based on a client’s needs as a seamless package.

    But what about the return on investment for employers? According to a recent survey, many employers introduce wellness programs simply because they believe it’s the right thing to do, but we don’t believe there shouldn’t be recognition or financial rewards for such forethought. Our finance director created a brilliant evidence-based formula to quantify the return on investments of wellness programs and quantified the return at 492 per cent. In addition, our clients all get certificates and social media posts as our way of saying well done and thanks for using us.

    Spa Medical will also join the PA Life Masterclass on October 17, where Cominos will lead a roundtable discussion on employee wellness.

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    AUTHOR

    Jade Burke

    Jade Burke, Editor for PA Life

    All stories by: Jade Burke