50% reduction in MSD related sickness absence at Torus

50% reduction in MSD related sickness absence at Torus

50% reduction in MSD related sickness absence at Torus


Torus is a large housing and regeneration group based in the North West of England. It was formed in April 2015 when two separate high performing organisations, Helena Partnerships and Golden Gates Housing Trust (GGHT), joined forces to form a new housing group.

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) within the Workplace can cause pain and suffering for employees and nationally there are more years lived with MSD disability than any other disease, with 30.9m working days lost (source HSE). As Torus has an ageing workforce, they were suffering from a high proportion of MSD related absence due to the nature of their work.


Connect Health has been working with Torus since September 2016 following a tender process. This is the first time Torus has had an on-site occupational health physiotherapy provider for their housing maintenance and office staff, following the decision to make employee health a key strategic priority to ensure corporate resilience for the future, as well as putting their people first.

Today, Torus is benefiting from the positive contribution that their focus on employee health makes to the delivery of higher quality and lower-cost services.

The MSD problem

Previously, Torus had a private healthcare physio scheme with the employee having to pay for the treatment and then claim it back, supported by an off-site physio service to cater for employees off on long term sickness due to MSD but this was proving ineffective in reducing sickness absence and was a very reactive approach.

The decision to move to onsite occupational health physio meant that staff had access to clinicians on-site, referrals could be made straight away with additional reports and advice on how to manage their care – a truly preventative service.

Connect Health provides the following services at Torus

On-site physio

  • Prompt and convenient access to on-site physiotherapy providing consistency of delivery and dedicated, experienced physios

Proactive injury prevention

  • Health and wellbeing campaigns, physical activity/ exercise promotions to avoid sedentary lifestyles
  • Seminars and exercise classes such as to prevent back pain


  • MSD Awareness training for managers


  • To reduce MSD absence
  • To improve the health and wellbeing offering for their workforce
  • Reduce the financial costs associated with MSDs
  • Facilitate and expedite return to work of MSD cases

Service progression

Since the service implementation in Sept 2016, the service has developed in line with customer needs, management reporting and trend analysis. Connect has assisted by collecting and analysing a wealth of bespoke management information. This provides the evidence to effectively evaluate the contract and serve as a basis for continual improvement.

Service developments since October 2017

  • Automatic referral of all MSD absence cases
    Anyone off sick due to MSD is automatically referred into the service and directly booked into the physio clinic
  • New absence recording system
    Torus’s own system, which shows live data on causes and length of absence
  • Protection of at least 2 x appointment slots per clinic
    Anyone with an immediate need can use the protected slots
  • Delivery of MSD awareness training for referring managers
    Seminars offering advice on how to support the management of employees with MSDs, what is an MSD, the implications of absence and benefits of referring quickly. Also training on what to expect from reports
  • New electronic diary system for referrals and appointments
    This is a bespoke software system, giving quicker access to appointments and reporting
  • Provision of telephone assessments
    For any absence cases that cannot attend a face to face appointment eg unable to drive due to pain
  • Weekly meeting between physiotherapist and HR
    To review all absence cases and return to work plans, enabling clearer communication

The service remains fully utilised with a low rate of non-attendance. The physiotherapist liaises with managers regarding recommended temporary adjusted duties to see if they can be put in place and to work with the business to make the service effective for all.

As required, the physiotherapist delivers workplace assessments to assist in reducing risk, improve working practices and assist in the reduction of reoccurrence of MSDs.

Staff survey results

How easy was it to get a convenient appointment?  96%

How effective was the advice and treatment you received in helping you to remain at work or return to work?  97%

How satisfied are you with our knowledge and expertise? 98%

How much do you value having this service made available to you? 99%

How likely are you to recommend this service to a colleague if they needed similar care or treatment? 98%

Results in year 2 of physiotherapy service


  • 112 referrals Sept 17 – June 18
  • 146 referrals Sept 17 – Aug 18
  • Increased speed of referral of MSD absence cases –
    70% have been booked in within 4 weeks of absence.
    48% within the first 1 week.


  • Ave days lost due to MSD prior to new programme being put in place was 1.79 per 6 month period. After new programme ave no of days off work was reduced by 51% down to 0.88 days over a 6 month period.


  • This implies a cost saving of £120k pa


  • As a proportion of all sickness absence, MSD has gone down from 37.1% to 23.3%


  • Average days absence per employee has reduced by 47%

Reduction in MSD absence (July 17-Dec 17 vs Jan 18-June 18):


Helped me enormously with issues at work. With advice given I am now able to manage the pain and stiffness myself.

Thank you Eva, the treatment made a huge improvement to my back problem.

Eva has been a huge help, a lovely lady. Nothing was too much trouble. Great advice given.


Why Connect as a partner?

“Connect is a highly skilled and knowledgeable business and provides a first class occupational physiotherapy service. We partnered with Connect in 2016 and they have been providing a professional on-site service for Torus, particularly the in-house contractor arm of the business, as we have an ageing workforce and were suffering a lot from MSD absence due to the nature of
their work.

Connect work with you to see where the issues are within the business and help you to take on a more proactive approach to tackling these issues whilst supporting employees in and/or outside of work.

The service far outweighs the cost as we have seen a return of £4 for every £1 we spend on the service. MSD absence has reduced by 51% in the last year and we have 97% employee satisfaction rates based on feedback from every session. I would highly recommend Connect and the range of services they deliver to reduce absence, support the wellbeing of your employees and create a more proactive and supportive culture within your business.”
Rebecca Duckett, OD (Organisational Development) Performance Lead, Torus

Rebecca’s role is to lead on Wellbeing and Performance within the Group to support employee engagement, attraction and retention.


“I had a really positive service. Friendly team, excellent advice, easy to follow exercise plan and a follow up plan agreed. Highly recommended.”
Caroline King – Group Head of Brand and Engagement


“I have always found the physio service to be a great value to our business type.

The information is relayed to me as a manager to assist with return to work interviews, provides recommendations and assists in a speedy recovery for operatives returning back to work.

The service also offers excellent guidance and advice to managers when dealing with injury-related issues. I find the service a great asset to our business and having used the service myself this has assisted me in my recovery.”
Debbie Brindle – Line Manager

What does the future hold?

Torus are amalgamating with another housing group, LMH Group, to form the largest housing association solely operating in the North West. This is going to bring new challenges and opportunities for the Group and heightened demand for support from Connect, as there will be an increase in workforce from 860 to 1500 employees, some of which will already have issues with their health and wellbeing due to the nature of their work.

Download the full Torus Group Case Study here