Supporting healthy choices

Find out about the app that helps you make lifestyle changes, created by nurses for nurses

A recent Nursing Standard survey showed one in four nurses class themselves as obese. Of the 3,035 nurses who took part in the survey, 71% said they feel their employer offers little or no support to help them maintain a healthy weight or lifestyle.

It’s statistics like these that prompted nurses working for C3 Collaborating for Health to launch the Healthy Weight Initiative for Nurses (WIN) project in 2015.

That led to an interactive NURSING YOU resource being developed, which was turned into a free app for nurses last year.

The app enables nurses to reflect on how they make decisions at work and set goals to help them achieve and maintain a healthy weight. It includes wellbeing assessments, tracking functions, recipes and health tips.

This is a tool created with nurses’ unique workplace challenges in mind

Nurses were contacted as part of the project through focus groups, workshops and surveys.

“All the nurses we contacted agreed they wanted an online tool that would help them recognise triggers for unhealthy habits and would lead them to make little changes and better choices,” says Michaela Nuttall, a cardiovascular nurse and consultant for C3 Collaborating for Health (pictured above).

“But they wanted it to be different from all the apps, websites, books and classes already available to help people lose weight and stay healthy. They wanted a tool that was created with nurses’ unique workplace challenges in mind.”

Selena Clarke is a burns and plastic reconstruction specialist nurse and was part of the app advisory team.

“Being an overweight nurse, I felt the project helped me tackle my own obesity in a way that worked with my job and its associated issues,” says Selena. “I’ve lost four stone in weight, started running three times a week, and even ran a 10k. I’ve started dancing and progressed to dancing in competitions – something I would never have done previously. I feel happier and more in control of my body. And, I am no longer diabetic.”

I ache less after a long shift and the additional exercise has helped with my mood both in and out of work

The app now has more than 1,000 users, the majority of whom are women, with 80% citing weight loss as their main reason for using it.

“I feel much more confident to tackle the issues of weight management with my patients; previously it was a subject I shied away from,” adds Selena.

“Physically I have noticed I ache less after a long shift and the additional exercise has helped with my mood both in and out of work.

“I hope I have inspired a couple 
of the nurses I work with to take positive steps to ensure they can continue to nurse in a healthy manner. Weight loss is an emotive subject. With the added issues of being a nurse there is no easy solution but having options that are simple and effective is a good starting point.”

Selena Clarke

Selena Clarke

Find out more

The NURSING YOU app was designed and conceived by nurses, exclusively for nurses.

The work is part of the RCN’s Healthy Workplace, Healthy You campaign, which supports nursing professionals to lead healthy lifestyles so they can maintain both physical and mental wellbeing.

Visit the dedicated web pages to develop your own self-care plan.

Words by Susan Embley / Main picture by Gareth Harmer

Read next...