Scots care workers smoke and drink more than was initially thought, a new survey reveals.
Now university boffins are calling for increased support to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Research conducted by Edinburgh Napier University studied the lifestyles of 813 care workers and discovered that less than 20% ate five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
There are urgent calls for more support to be offered for care workers, after a new study today reveals many smoke and drink more than the recommended guidelines as well as not exercising enough or not at all.
Head of population and public health at Napier, Richard Kyle said: “We hear regularly from care workers about the pressures of their role and overstretched healthcare services. It’s almost inevitable that this takes its toll on care workers’ own health.”
The results of the research were concerning considering the role of healthcare professionals is to promote healthy wellbeing among their patients. It is a well known fact that smoking, drinking, a lack of exercise and dietary factors are linked with causing cancer, diabetes and stoke. Researchers looked at 471 nurses, 433 other healthcare professionals, 813 care workers and 17,103 people with non-health-related occupations over a four year period as part of the Governments Scottish Health Survey.
The health professionals were assessed against current health guidelines, including being active for at least 150 minutes a week, and drinking no more than 21 units of alcohol per week if they were male, or 14 units if were are female.
The results of the researched showed a “significant” number of nurses didn’t stick to the guidelines but overall their health profile was better than that of the general working population. However, in the case of care workers, 37% smoked, 82% did not eat enough fruit and vegetables, and 43% drank more than recommended limits and did not meet exercise guidelines.
The typical role of care worker duties are wide ranging. The job revolves around helping patients with a wide range of their immediate needs, their day – to- day life which in all can be extremely stressful, which people say contributes to the unhealthy lifestyles of healthcare professionals.
Kyle said: “We need to do more to support our army of care workers across Scotland who day-in, day-out provide essential care to people in their homes and our hospitals.”
Care workers had the highest rate of smoking as well as having the lowest intake of fruit and vegetables.
The research team at Edinburgh Napier said: “Efforts to increase access to healthy food should be prioritised and smoking cessation programmes among care workers are urgently required.”
The findings of the researched carried out by the team at Edinburgh Napier has brought to light the poor standard of health amongst Scottish health professionals, as well as posing the question of why such ill wellbeing is occurring.
Richard Kyle said: “This starts by supporting care workers to stop smoking and to eat more healthily, but it also means asking harder questions about whether their pay and working conditions reflect the value we all place on the vital work they do.”
Urgent support and help must be offered to all health professionals, especially care workers, to ensure that a healthy lifestyle can be achieved by all.
By Myrren Porter