Health Coaching is an approach rather than a job. It is about working with people to increase their awareness of their own health issues and helping them take more control of their healthcare.
Susan Blundell tells us more about her role as a health coach and also what health coaching has done for her.
As a health coach I have supported people to re-examine health behaviours such as healthy eating, exercise, taking medication and creating quality time as a family. All areas of their lives they have been struggling with over a number of years and on a number of cases had sought advice from health professionals. Through health coaching they were able to come up with their own plan as to how they were going to make the changes they wanted to make, not what they were advised to make.
This is because health coaching aims to unlock a person’s potential to improve their health, implementing small changes, little by little at a pace that’s comfortable for them. The process begins with engagement and creating a trusting partnership by building rapport through the use of strong communication and listening and negotiation. The coach’s role is to help the client set meaningful goals by framing the conversations and providing the expert information as required enabling them to make decisions. This approach sees the person as truly resourceful and as an equal in the professional – client relationship. They are the holders of the solutions to their own health – no one else!
For myself personally I wish to increase the amount of exercise I do, but as a busy working mum with two children, opportunities to dedicate any time to myself are limited. Through health coaching and having time to explore this topic I realised that netball would offer me the opportunity to socialise and exercise at the same time – now I am doing a back to netball course as I haven’t played for over 20 years since leaving school. And I am also having conversations with women in my community about setting up a team – watch this space – for the first time in years I am excited about exercise.
Health coaching as an approach supports the mind-set change needed for the professionals to see the possibilities for people to make the changes needed to improve their own health. It has the potential to revolutionise services because not only does this approach create an “activated patient/client” it also supports the “activation of professionals” by embracing a culture truly based on working in partnership with people to improve public services and person centred goal setting.
Within Leeds we are working across organisations to promote health coaching as an approach. If you want to know more please contact Susan Blundell at Susan.Blundell@leeds.gov.uk
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