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NHS Grampian staff step up for the Snowdrop Challenge

Our bespoke Step Count Challenges are a great way of encouraging colleagues to keep connected, whilst taking time to look after their health and wellbeing. NHS Grampian recently ran a challenge for their staff, and Public Health Practitioner and challenge co-ordinator James Norman took some time to tell us about the challenge and the difference it made.

Published: 26/03/2021

(Photo credit: Emily Gray, Staff Nurse)

(Photo credit: Emily Gray, Staff Nurse)

"We ran the Snowdrop Step Count Challenge for 4 weeks from Monday 18th January.  Now, we have run challenges for staff before, and we undertook our first NHS Grampian-wide challenge in early 2020 (before you know what…) so this was our second aimed at all our staff. So, we were wondering how it would go, staff were tired, it was mid-winter and we were in lockdown...

This challenge wasn’t just named after an early spring bloom, Operation Snowdrop is NHS Grampian’s plan for coping with winter challenges plus COVID-19 and it included a great deal of attention to staff welfare as this last year has been so difficult for many of our staff.  So the aim wasn’t just to get staff moving, but to get staff talking about things other than Coronavirus and to support staff morale in general.

As I was still partially seconded to Covid-19 related duties during the challenge I only sent out one motivational email per week, though I think that was adequate.  I did encourage staff to use #nhsgsnowdropchallenge on social media which was quite well used and you can go on to Twitter, Instagram etc., to this day to see what staff posted.

In the end the competition was amazingly successful. Over 120 teams took part, from NHS sites ranging from south of Aberdeen to Elgin in the north.  This compares to what we still consider a very successful 80+ teams in 2020.  Almost 200 million steps were trodden and the winning team, ‘The Crimond Cruisers’ based in a Health Centre near Fraserburgh covered well over 3 million steps themselves.  Amazingly one member of the winning team had to self isolate for 10 days during the challenge so had to do all their steps in the garden!

“At one point I had to self isolate for 10 days but did not want to let the team down and took to circling the garden multiple times throughout the day, photo below. We did not think we would be so competitive but it has been great fun and brought us closer as a team too.”

Crimond Cruiser team member

We undertook a small evaluation at the end and 90% of respondents were more active during the Step Count Challenge than they normally would be. 75% of respondents noticed other benefits over and above an increase to their physical activity levels, these benefits were varied but included better sleep and other perceived mental health improvements.

As the organiser I found the uptake of the challenge and the positive comments most heartening.  After being seconded from my Health Improvement role because of COVID-19 for almost a year stepping back and running this challenge made me realise how valuable health improvement work is."

James Norman, Public Health Practitioner, NHS Grampian.

Find out more about how to run a bespoke Step Count Challenge here