Bournemouth and Poole College, based in Dorset, has identified a number of factors that which affect the health and wellbeing of its staff and students. Through strategic partnerships and initiatives, the college now has an over-arching goal to improve the lives of those who work and learn there.
About Bournemouth and Poole College
Bournemouth and Poole College has around 17,000 students. Of these around 3,500 are aged 16–18. The college also caters for adult students, distance learning, international students, apprentices and students on higher education programmes. The college has six different campuses of various sizes, the two main sites being located in the town centres of Bournemouth and Poole.
Robin Coe is the student services manager, and is responsible for bringing together all the necessary services and information to ensure that students get access to the best possible health and welbeing provisions. This is a challenging task at times, as Rob explains:
'Sometimes for young people, personal or embarrassing issues such as weight problems and sexual health problems can prevent them from accessing the help and services on offer to them. We have had to think out of the box and come up with fresh approaches to these issues facing young people today and make accessing our services as easy and approachable as possible. We have been successful by engaging all faculties in the process and embedding enrichment activities as extra curricular and curricular activities.’
In order to get students to engage in physical activities, the college has allocated a Wii console to every faculty to encourage them to take up exercise with the Wii Fit game. So far this has been extremely popular within each faculty, particularly as many of the students own, or aspire to own, a Wii at home.
There is an occupational health nurse, who focusing on the health of staff, and a student nurse, who focuses on student health. The student nurse works full time at the college, providing a health service for students through a variety of means, including drop-ins for any student with health issues or concerns. The nurse is a qualified Smoke Stop Adviser, so can assist students and staff in stopping smoking and can issue vouchers towards the cost of nicotine replacement products and/or medication such as Zyban. Students (under 21) can join the C-Card scheme (in partnership with the local PCT) which entitles them to free condoms. The nurse also gives regular talks on important health topics such as sexual health, diet and substance misuse. Health ‘roadshows’ are held regularly where students can meet medical professionals informally. This has proved to be highly successful during ‘no smoking day’ and also with free chlamydia testing.
Following a successful bid for funding from the Strategic Health Authority, the college has plans for improving the sexual health services by improving/increasing facilities and resources, advertising and signposting to local services, further training for staff in sexual health and a view towards training student ambassadors to deliver peer education in this area.
The college has a mental health officer, who works part time to improve the emotional health of staff and students, whether they have anxiety problems, depression or panic attacks. For students who experience anxiety or panic attacks, the college introduced ‘time out’ cards, which students can give to their tutor if they feel they are going to have an attack and need space to deal with their emotions. The card lets their tutor know that they are taking time out to recover, without needing to explain in front of their peers.