Roller-coasters, doughnuts and Blackpool

A Health Coach talks about the impact of coaching which helps people to better manage their health and care: 

One of my standout childhood memories was the day my parents told my sister and me to get ready to go out and run some errands.

As we drove to the end of the road, my dad turned to me and asked, “which way should we go?” I chose left. At the next junction, my sister decided. The adventure continued in that pattern until we found ourselves at Blackpool Pleasure Beach – walking down the prom, eating doughnuts and riding the rollercoasters.

What made it stand out? Well it was the fact that my parents had a different kind of conversation with me than they had ever had before – my sister and I determined our own destination.

I often think about that memory when I talk to people about health coaching because it is all about having a different conversation with people about their health and wellbeing.

Health Coaching brings together clinical knowledge, behaviour change theory and techniques to produce a conversation that allows a person to find the best solution for them. The starting point is working out what matters to them and supporting them to ‘own’ their health. We began on this journey at the same time as using the Patient Activation Measure (PAM) as we know health coaching helps to increase a person’s knowledge, skills and confidence.

Maybe, a little like when my sister and I got in the car that day, we are all used to being told what to do and where to go when it comes to our health, but in Lancashire and South Cumbria we are starting to ask if there is another way of working with our communities to help them live healthier lives.

I’ve seen some great examples where heatlh coaching has really helped people.

Retiree Stephen comes to mind as he was referred to a local weight management team having recently suffered several transient ischaemic attacks (TIA) or “mini strokes” and was having trouble breathing. He knew he needed to make some big changes to his life for him to enjoy his retirement.

The team supported him through a bespoke programme using PAM and health coaching. This resulted in him in losing four stone, decreasing his blood pressure and an increasing in his mood, with his PAM starting at 2 and increasing to 4 – a fantastic achievement. Stephen said that it was all because he was involved in the decisions which motivated him to make these critical changes. He said: “I walked in blind and left with my eyes wide open”.

Suzanne, his Occupational Therapist, also loved that she can see people like Stephen have the confidence to now make meaningful and lasting changes to their life.

Claire, a clinical care co-ordinator, also mentioned to me that health coaching gives her immense job satisfaction. She feels better equipped and more confident when connecting with people in a way that works for them, enabling her to understand the whole person.

I’m also constantly amazed that something so simple as a more structured conversation can have such an impact on a person’ life. And I’m such a passionate supporter that I’m now a health coach trainer, training others and helping to spread the service across the north west.

Over the last 18 months we have had the opportunity to work with teams across the region. We have been able to deliver over 50 health coaching programmes across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre and now stretching across Lancashire and South Cumbria. Working with colleagues we have trained 14 accredited health coaching trainers, who together have trained over 500 people, including nurses, Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), health and wellbeing support workers, pharmacists and service managers.

We all agree the essence of health coaching is to shift towards partnering with people around their health needs and involving them in solutions rather than being advice-givers.

What is the point of all of this? Well, although I’ve witnessed many people turn their lives around, I always come back to thinking about my mum as living proof of living a more ‘personalised care’ life. Living with multiple and complex health challenges, she understands her health and care better than anyone else and she works in partnership with her specialists to come up with highly personalised solutions to the challenges she faces. This allows her to live her life to the full.

I like to think that when she visits her GP, nurse or consultant that they might be asking her: “What matters to you?” as I know she’ll have some pretty good ideas.

Katie Goulding

Katie Goulding is a Personalised Care Organisational Development Facilitator and EMCC trained coach, working with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals.

She works across Lancashire and South Cumbria ICS which is a Personalised Care demonstrator site and is currently studying towards a Masters in health coaching and culture change. She is passionate about people having better conversations within health and care settings.

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