Lecturer makes case for National Workplace Wellness Policy

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By Robert A. Emmanuel

During a presentation to address wellness in the workplace, Dr. Dwayne Devonish – a lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill campus – made the point that although the Caribbean has various pieces of legislation to deal with health and wellness, there is “no guidance to employers”.

His remark was made last week during a lecture hosted by the UWI Open Campus entitled: “Lesson Learnt from the National Workplace Wellness Policy of Barbados: Making the Case for Antigua and Barbuda.”

 “All of these acts and legislation, all they did was put unnecessary burden on employers and oftentimes employers tried their best to elude or evade the legal requirements. And that is the problem with legislation … it only provides requirements on employers but doesn’t provide guidance,” Dr. Devonish said.

 “In Antigua, there is an NCD Strategic Plan or National Health Policy 2012 – 2016, but a National Workplace Wellness Policy is different because … health and wellness are two different things.

“You can go to the doctor and get your checks done and you are classified as healthy—you have no illness, no disease, no NCD, no cancer—but you continue to drink excessively, you continue to engage in very little physical activity, continue to smoke and have unhealthy lifestyle patterns. So even though you may be healthy, you are not essentially well,” he said.

Dr. Devonish also pointed to nine facets of wellness that workers ought to be mindful of, namely physical, psychological, social, environmental, inte1llectual, occupational, spiritual, cultural and financial wellness.

“Wellness speaks to not just the outcome that you are trying to achieve but the steps and behaviours taken on to reach the outcome,” he said. “Normally, when people think about wellness, they think about [going to the gym], eating healthy, all of the physical segments of health, but the more contemporary definition of wellness suggests it is multi-dimensional and does not stick alone to physical wellness.”

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