Rochester and Elmore District Health Service: from little things big things grow


In Rochester, about 180km north of Melbourne, a small public hospital and health service is turning up the volume on good health.


Rochester and Elmore District Health Service (REDHS) is dedicated to leading its community towards better health, and three years ago when it joined the Achievement Program, this mantra transcended into the daily lives of over 220 employees.


So far, the health service has achieved recognition for the Health Priority Area of Mental Health and Wellbeing and is striving to achieve all targets for Healthy Eating. Manager for people and culture, David Worrall, believes the program has inspired healthier habits for everyone.  


“The Achievement Program has helped us to embed a health and wellbeing focus to our workplace practices and policies,” Mr Worrall said.


Focusing on the wonderful work for the Healthy Eating health area, REDHS has used the Achievement Program toolkits, surveys and action plans to develop the roadmap to achieve the best-practice targets and had a key focus on the REDHS café.


Health promotion officer Crystie Ballard said the resources have assisted the service to identify what we are already doing well and where and how we can improve so everyone who visits our service has the opportunity to make healthier decisions.


By having a clear understanding of the healthy eating status quo REDHS was able to achieve some resounding wins including:

  • Wholehearted commitment from the leadership team.
  • A review of the current café policy and the establishment of a new overarching healthy eating policy for all food services such as vending machines, catering, prizes and fundraising.
  • Rearranging food cabinet displays to position healthy options in prime positions.
  • Altering recipes to swap unhealthy ingredients for healthier alternatives.
  • Removing less popular unhealthy food options.
  • Providing access to free water fountains across the hospital.
  • Establishing a ‘health and wellbeing’ section in all staff newsletters and on notice boards so everyone is informed about healthy opportunities and hot health topics that may benefit staff. 


These simple changes were rewarding for everyone with the corporate services manager Collin Wellard saying, “Café REDHS demonstrates that the work being done is have a positive impact on the community with patronage at the café by staff, residents and the community increasing as well as the positive feedback received for the varied nutritious menu, and warm and friendly staff.”


REDHS is dedicated to overcoming the challenges of this health area including changing people’s attitudes towards healthy eating, discouraging the use of using unhealthy food options for fundraising or as incentives and prizes, and embedding the changes as a ‘new normal’ to make sure its sustainable and consistent.


REDHS is continuing to enhance its health and wellbeing offerings, but is already reaping health rewards including:

  • An increase in fruit, vegetable and water consumption as identified in the annual staff survey.
  • Café profit margins remaining consistent with healthy food sales above 60% each month.
  • An increase in attendance by staff and customers at the café since the implementation of the new healthy eating policy.
  • Noticing positive shifts in behaviour around healthy eating.
  • Receiving overwhelming feedback in support of the changes, presentation and food options available.

REDHS is a wonderful example of an organisation going above and beyond to truly implement meaningful changes.

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