Latest News 14 August 2019 |Health coaches are helping Counties Manukau patients better manage their long-term conditions. Under the Health Coaching programme, which began as a pilot in 2018, support people are trained to ‘coach’ those living with long-term conditions such as diabetes and asthma. Health coaches can be both clinicians and non-clinicians (known as peers) and come from range of different cultures. CM Health has trained 65 health coaches to support patients in the community, usually through general practices.
“We are helping people to help themselves. The aim is to improve our patients’ experience and their quality of life,” says Lead Clinical Health Coach Nivedita Sharma Vij, noting there is already evidence of improved health measures among these patients such as lower blood glucose readings (HbA1c), fewer acute (emergency) presentations, lower rates of patients not attending appointments, healthier blood pressure ranges and better adherence to medication. Health coaching is also helping to strengthen the relationship patients have with their healthcare team, Ms Sharma Vij says.
The key to the success of the programme is that coaches work in partnership with the patient, helping them to solve any wider social issues which may impact the priority they give their health condition, explains health coach and nurse at Mangere Health Centre, Lorrayne Rani.
“We ask them what is important to them because, most of the time, diabetes (for example) is the last thing on their mind.”
Ms Rani (pictured) explains that the health coach might hear from the patient that their child is ill, their car has broken down, or there is no money for food let alone medicine.
“So we shift the focus to what they want to do,” she says, noting that information forms a personalised care plan which can be broken into manageable chunks. Sometimes Ms Rani says her role involves linking patients to services such as Work and Income New Zealand, Awhi Ora or the St John’s health shuttles to get to and from their medical appointments. She says health coaching has given her a toolkit to empower patients to manage their own health and she too is seeing positive outcomes.
Since September 2017, CM Health has run four two-day health coaching training workshops with on-going mentoring and supervision.
The programme is currently being evaluated.