Supporting a diverse workforce during Covid-19 and beyond

Connect Health partnered with West Lothian Council in June 2019 and provide an onsite and virtual occupational health physiotherapy service, having adapted the service model to support a diverse workforce during Covid.


West Lothian Council has a workforce of 8,400 employees across a range of services, including schools, social work, housing/building maintenance, cleansing/refuse collection, catering, cleaning, environmental services and a range of support services.

It is a challenging working environment, varying from sedentary tasks to roles that require lots of repetitive movements, sustained positions and manual handling tasks. These demands can cause employees to be at higher risk of musculoskeletal disorders, potentially causing them to be placed on modified duties.

Whilst the Council had a mental and behaviour employee assistance programme, they were looking for a process to help manage musculoskeletal absence. The previous model wasn’t very flexible being all face to face with no telephone triage, resulting in long waiting times and missed appointments. They wanted a new approach, flexible to the Council’s needs, with minimum impact on productivity, reducing triage time and absence rates.


Here at the Council, we work continuously to support employees to achieve and maintain healthy working lives. We have implemented a proactive and supportive approach to attendance management that focuses on employee wellbeing to ensure our employees are the best they can be. The Connect Health model really stood out, it just seemed to fit. What Connect Health was able to offer was a cut above any other service I’ve seen.

Vera Bole, HR Senior Advisor at West Lothian Council, who has worked at the Council for 18 years



Connect Health partnered with West Lothian Council in June 2019 and provide an onsite and virtual occupational health physiotherapy service:

  • to reduce musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) absence rates due to the nature of the employees work and the ageing workforce in some areas.
  • provide a more pro-active approach to West Lothian Council’s physiotherapy service to focus on prevention rather than treatment.


Summary outcomes

  • Absence overall and musculoskeletal (MSK) absences have reduced.
  • 96% employee satisfaction rating.
  • West Lothian Council have fully utilised the investment from the services Connect Health have delivered.
  • Fast access to telephone triage, providing treatment in a timely manner.
  • Excellent tools and resources, exercises and video support.
  • Phenomenal management information and innovative ideas.


Covid has really highlighted the benefits of the Connect Health model. If we had continued with our traditional face to face model, we wouldn’t have been able to offer any physio support to our staff.

Vera Bole, HR Senior Advisor at West Lothian Council


Management and support information provision

Connect Health offered home working assessments for West Lothian Council employees working from home through the Covid-19 pandemic. Each employee received an individual report with additional advice on frequent breaks, the importance of movement and general tips on well-being. Recommendations were made regarding equipment and home set up, looking after the employees’ musculoskeletal health. At times, if identified, referral to occupational health physiotherapy was also recommended or a virtual assessment.

West Lothian Council employees had access to Connect Health’s live and recorded exercises and exercise classes – a popular example being Pilates for low back pain. Connect Health’s webinars were also made available on topics such as;

  • Effective home working
  • Keeping fit through Covid
  • Mental health and exercise
  • Challenges of returning to work
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Questions to ask your physiotherapist


Future plans

The Council has a better understanding of what to expect and which groups of staff need the most support during this critical time. Connect Health is now working with West Lothian Council on a specific exercise programme to support their carers at this difficult time. Specific Covid recovery rehabilitation has been implemented, to assist employees who are experiencing specific issues, such as fatigue and weakness.



Read more and download the full West Lothian Council case study