The Estevan Police Service has started a wellness initiative for their members and staff.

ESTEVAN — The Estevan Police Service has started a wellness initiative for their members and staff.

The three-month program is aimed at encouraging physical well-being. Chief Rich Lowen said they “have worked very hard to make sure [the officers] have the mental health services that members need to ensure that they are able to do their jobs, and [they] wanted to recognize that physical fitness takes a big part in that as well, as it helps maintain wellness, focusing on a well-rounded lifestyle that helps [them] do [their] jobs.”

“We just wanted to encourage and provide a little bit of an incentive for the members here,” Lowen said.

The wellness initiative was started by the EPS along with the Estevan Police Association in partnership with Encompass Fitness Studio. It’s open to all sworn members and EPS staff that are willing to participate, and Lowen said about 90 per cent of the service members signed up.

The organizations worked together to do a baseline assessment of all participants, which included several exercises and tests, provided by Encompass.

“We started with a baseline assessment. We wanted to get a good understanding of where each person was with their physical health and a number of components from cardiovascular health to their strength to their power, and mobility,” said Brady Johnson, the owner of the Encompass Fitness Studio.

“This wasn’t standardized against anything. It was just to understand where [they were] at, so we could give them an area to focus on for the next three months that would make the greatest difference for them. The goal of the program is to get people to be more active than they currently are in overall wellness.”

Now, from March through May, participants will be involved in individual programs to improve any area they want or need to work on.

“In the next three months, we’re going to be offering incentive programs for them to participate in, everything from nutrition programs on how to eat better to fitness programs that Encompass offers, like mobility training. We’re hoping to promote a better lifestyle, promote members’ health and wellness, help their mental health, and also give them more endurance to take on the physical challenges that they have here at work,” Lowen explained.

Policing is a physical job, and the EPS has an in-house gym that members can use. However, Lowen noted that once members finish the provincial academy, physical workouts are not mandatory. So, they wanted to create an incentive to motivate members to dedicate some time to their well-being.

“We just want to encourage that they stay healthy and stay well. It works for their benefit. It works for the benefit of the service and works for the benefit of the community when members aren’t off injured or off sick. It helps them in their daily life working here. So, we look at physical activity, exercise, nutrition, mobility, sleep, hydration and stress management,” Lowen said.

“EPS offers a bit of an incentive for members to join, like, we’ll offer them some time off, if they participate, and further time off if they follow up with their assessments and show improvement.”

Johnson added that due to the nature of work where members have different shifts, participants have individual programs with particular goals.

“Some members are coming into Encompass for fitness classes, some have been given individual workout programs, and some are focusing on nutrition. We’ve created nutrition plans,” she explained.

Johnson said Encompass was “excited and happy” to be a part of the project.

“I think it’s a great initiative. It’s great for them and for the community. And we’re just really pleased that they chose us. It’s more of a beta test, this first round, [that will help us see] what’s going to work well and what’s the impact and the response from it. And then hopefully, it’s something we can continue to work on together and in the future,” Johnson said.

In June, participants will go through another assessment, and then the service will be evaluating the impact. Lowen added, they hope many members will keep going with the recommendations, and the service will probably offer the initiative again in a year.

“We want to do it annually so that every year we’ll be able to give them a baseline and measurement to see how they’re doing,” Lowen explained.

Throughout the year, the service will evaluate if there are any changes in attendance, sick leave use, as well as general morale and mental health of the membership. Lowen said they hope to see positive outcomes, and so far it’s been taken well by the members.

“I think it’s a good thing and I think it’s been really greeted well by the membership. The members are really taking hold of it. We created a fitness committee, where the members actually are having input into how they would like to see it evolve. In the future, I’d like to see it evolve into not just physical fitness programs, but also other wellness programs, whether that’s yoga, meditation or other therapies that we can offer to ensure that our members stay healthy,” Lowen added.


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