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Pamela Dempster Owner & Certified Professional Ergonomist Dempster Wellness.

Leading Wellness companies put in dedicated efforts in ensuring that the organizations they work with attain optimum productivity, decreased absenteeism, reduced injuries and healthcare costs. Wellness Companies achieve this goal through the delivery of innovative and comprehensive Wellness services.

One prominent company offering such innovative and comprehensive services to its clients is Dempster Wellness, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

In the following interview, Pamela Dempster, Owner and Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist (CCPE), shares insights about Dempster Wellness’ mission and vision, the diverse services it provides, its major achievements, and its future vision.

Following are the highlights of the interview:

Please brief our audience about your company, its mission, and the key aspects of its stronghold within the health and wellness space.

We are a broad-based and strategic service Corporate Health and Wellness company that focuses on assisting organizations in the challenges that can arise when developing new or building on existing Employee Health and Wellness services/programs. Our services range from front line employee health and wellness services to corporate space design and everything in between.

Our mission is always to assist in improving the health and wellbeing of all employees who are at various life/health stages, make access to health and wellness easy and efficient, prevent corporate workplace injury/illness and related costs, and provide ongoing support for organizations Health and Wellness Programs, education, and training needs.

We achieve this by utilizing a Total Worker Wellness approach (based on the Total Worker Health program in the United States). We identify and acknowledge in today’s corporate environment, that employee health/wellness does not start and end within the corporate walls and that to achieve full worker health, wellbeing and human performance, life at work and at home must be addressed within any Employee Wellness Program and that one size Employee Wellness Programs will not fit all. All of our services can be customized to meet the unique needs and work culture of each organization.

The Associate Team at Dempster Wellness is truly passionate about Employee Health and Wellness and its effects on workplace culture. We work collaboratively with employers and employees through change processes needed to make work environments and corporate culture safe, more productive, happy, and well.

Tell us more about your services and solutions which make your company stand out from the competition?

What makes Dempster Wellness stand alone in the Health and Wellness sector is that our Onsite service offerings are traditionally different. We go to the employees. They do not have to come to us. Our focus is to meet the employees where they work so their time, and their health/ wellness choices are spent wisely. By providing our Health/Wellness Services to the employee at work (office or home environment), they are more likely to engage in a health/ wellness offering. Life can get busy and very stressful and sometimes heading to the gym before or after work just can’t be done.

We strive to make Health/Wellness easier to access thus easier to choose and thus easier to make a regular part of a healthy lifestyle. We are also unique in that Dempster Wellness doesn’t just offer front line Employee Wellness services.

Organizations can also access our multitude of Corporate Services. Our Corporate Service, which also directly impact overall Employee Wellness, ensure Wellness, OHS/Safety, Procurement and Real Property/Facilities programs run smoothly, efficiently and in a timely manner and which all impact the end result of any Employee Health/Wellness Program.

Our services/programs were developed based on what I observed when working as an external Occupational Therapy/Ergonomic contractor. A common organizational design was identified.

What I noticed in most organizations I worked with, was although employee Safety/Health and Wellness service offerings may be available internally within most organizations, via Human Resource (HR) departments – wellness challenges, mental health, OHS departments – ergonomic, safety services, Procurement/Purchasing departments- office furniture, ergonomic equipment and Real Property/Facilities departments – space planning, cubicle/floor design, they did not generally “speak” to one another and had their own committees/meetings that ran independent of each other even though the goal of each department offerings was the same – to protect and improve the health, safety and wellness of its employees.

This internal design was/is directly impacting the success of each departments services and unfortunately in negative ways as seen in the continued high rates of Workers Compensation Claims (WCB).

This design produces GAPS in internal programs and also produces duplication of services which can have a fiscal impact on organizations. These gaps are where employees are still not achieving total health and wellness, regardless of the multitude of services and corporate environments they access.

Most companies focus on the wrong goal where they are interested in injury/illness rates. That’s like predicting the outcome of a hockey game after it’s been played. It’s too late then unfortunately! If the end result is to truly reduce injury/illness rates the focus should be on reducing/preventing exposure to risks. Thus, the inception of Dempster Wellness began.

All of the corporate wellness services, offered at Dempster Wellness, cross into many sectors within organizations (where you’ll now see Ergonomics as a large portion of all Employee Wellness Programming, not just in OHS) to ensure all areas within the Wellness (HR), Safety (OHS), Procurement (Equipment Purchase) and Real Property/Facilities (Workplace Environment) are connected and working together as a team or at least communicating to one another. Our services assist in filling any organizational gap(s) that may impede their Employee Health/Wellness programming.

To assist organizations in reducing these gaps within different sectors, the following Prevention Focused services are provided:

Real/Property/Facilities: Employee Wellness Space Design/Planning; Corporate BuildMove/ Re-Design Ergonomic Prevention Services (for new builds or internal/external move/relocations).

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS): Safe Lifting Training, Ergonomics/Human Factors

Procurement: Positive Procurement/Purchasing Program; Procurement/Purchase Review Service.

Frontline Employee Wellness Services:

Services have a multitude of offerings within each sector and includes:

  • Mental Health Services
  • Fitness Programs either 1:1 or Group
  • Medical Fitness Programs that assist employees managing medical conditions such as Diabetes or Cancer
  • Pre/Post Natal Fitness
  • Ergonomics/Human Factors
  • Nutrition/Healthy Eating Services
  • Corporate Wellness Specialist/Wellness Coaching/Programs
  • Massage Therapy
  • Yoga/Meditation

Pamela, brief us about your journey in the health and wellness industry.

With over 25 years of practicing and specializing in the fields of Ergonomics/Human Factors and Employee Health and Wellness, I provide comprehensive corporate consulting services to both private and public sector organizations throughout Atlantic Canada/Nationally within Canada and the United States. I also am also a proud holder of Baccalaureate degrees in Occupational Therapy (Dalhousie University) and Psychology (Saint Mary’s University).

I am a full member of the College for the Certification of Canadian Ergonomists ( CCCPE) and the Association of Canadian Ergonomists (ACE). I am a Board Member for the Universal Design Network of Canada, an Advisor at Wellness Works Canada and the Workplace Wellness Centre of Excellence, and an Expert Panel Judge for the Psychological Safety and Wellness Division of Canada’s Safest Employers Awards/Canadian Occupational Safety.

My journey into the Health and Wellness industry began early in my career as an Occupational Therapist. I began to enjoy the specialized field of Ergonomics and Human Factors more and more when requested to complete these services. So much so that I decided commit to the field as a full-time practitioner over 20 years ago.

After an enjoyable 13 years with one organization as their Rehabilitation/Ergonomic Consultant, I made the decision to expand out on my own due to the changes I was observing in the field of Employee Wellness, where just providing Ergonomic Services was not enough. Hence, Dempster Wellness was born.

My passion to help employees and organizations was understood and felt by other likeminded practitioners and where I am proud to work alongside the exceptional practitioners within our Associate Team. Together we work to make not just employees but people healthy and well. This passion is what fuels our services offerings.

Several years ago, I decided to pursue the highest level of Certification a practitioner can achieve in Canada working in the field of Ergonomics/Human Factors – the Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist (CCPE) designation. To achieve this designation a practitioner must meet very strict standards in their level of education and ergonomic experience and is approved by a National Certifying Board. It was one of the highlights of my career to date.

What is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the global healthcare sector, and what challenges did you face during the initial phase of the pandemic?

COVID-19, the word simply instills exhaustion. Exhaustion of understanding the new virus, exhaustion of the impact it has had on our daily lives, exhaustion of learning new skills to keep us safe, if not alive, on a daily basis, exhaustion of lockdowns, exhaustion of re-openings, and exhaustion for our healthcare system to manage the numerous ‘waves’ of outbreaks since 2020.

It has definitely been an experience. Prior to COVID-19, Dempster Wellness was in the midst of ongoing expansion as companies saw the need to offer more non-traditional/traditional wellness offerings/services.

Employers were beginning to understand the Total Worker Wellness approach to employee wellness. Dempster Wellness has always offered services both Onsite and Virtually. It was how I designed our services for ease of access by employers and employees. Some organizations we worked closely with, pre-Covid, had employees that worked in remote areas or at home, but still had to have access to Employee Wellness offerings, so a mix of our virtual and onsite services were a necessity for that group but were not very common.

I always viewed our Virtual services as a continuation of wellness services and an actual sector that could assist employees further with their health – again, whether from home or the office. I felt this would be a valuable service asset, especially in the new age of virtual medical healthcare, and that would also benefit all Employee Wellness Programs. It just wasn’t a service offering employers saw as valuable or necessary in the pre-covid era compared to the Onsite services. Then Covid-19 arrived.

Companies shut down and moved all their employees home. As stressful as this was for Dempster Wellness and many other companies, I knew it would not take long for employers to see the impact (physically and mentally) this huge shift to home would have on employees’ health and wellness. We tried to assist organizations during this very stressful time by developing a Free At Home Ergonomic Reference Guide to send out to all of the Dempster Wellness accounts in an attempt to keep as many employees safe and comfortable as possible during the early stages of Covid-19 and the Work From Home Directive. We currently now have an equal mix of both Onsite and Virtual caseloads.

With continuous development in technologies such as AI and big data, what is your prediction about the future of the healthcare sector pertaining to the health and wellness vertical?

Virtual/Online services I feel are here to stay and will continue to advance. AI will be part of that. Pre-COVID-19, an AI development company based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, contacted Dempster Wellness to assist them with the development of a Rehab/Ergonomic App that will assist assessors in determining/reading specific joint positions/angles in employees while being assessed. We were to assist in developing this with them by use of the app during our ergonomic services. This has been interrupted due to Covid but will likely resume again in the near future.

How do you envision scaling your company’s operations and offerings in 2021?

Health matters. Wellness matters. Employees/People know this now more than ever. Employers now know employee health/wellness programming is more critical now than ever to maintain healthy workforces.

It has to fit each organization’s unique needs. With this, Dempster Wellness continues to expand its health and wellness offerings to fit these needs to include both traditional and non-traditional health/wellness services. As a long standing, reputable Onsite service provider throughout Atlantic Canada, our Virtual offerings are now being accessed nationally across Canada and now into the United States.

We have recently been approached by an American Remote Healthcare company seeking to partner with a Wellness company to provide virtual wellness services for their accounts. Dempster Wellness hopes to continue to partner with other organizations like this to scale our Virtual offerings into 2021 and beyond and to provide employee Health and Wellness services Globally.

We will strive to continue this trend in an attempt to assist many more organizations in achieving their Total Worker Wellness programming.