If Sheffield sports teams have coaches, why not the general population?

Do you consider yourself an expert in looking after yourself? Or could you benefit from a health coach?

Monday, 8th March 2021, 11:35 am
Sheffield Sharks v Manchester Giants EIS Sheffield. Coach Atiba Lyons on the sidelines during a time out team talk. If sports teams need coaches, why not the general population?

When the NHS launched their plan for the next 10 years, they highlighted the need for Health Coaches (HCs). Across the country these new posts are being filled and some of you may already have had a session .

I know a lot about this area as I train HCs. I do have a vested interest in this area, but I choose to dedicate time to this as I believe coaching approaches in the NHS are critical to a healthy population.

But what do HCs do, and why do we need them? A HC supports and develops people’s ability to look after themselves. How we perform in the ongoing task of looking after ourselves is crucial. But we all know in the hectic and confusing world we live in, achieving this can be a real challenge. In any sector where you need people to perform well you usually see coaching skills utilised. You won’t find any sports team that wants to get the best out of its players that doesn’t utilise a coach.

I’ve highlighted before that I think good health outcomes depend on three key aspects- health, social and self. The health aspects are related to traditional medical services – medicines, operations, therapies- based on medical diagnosis and care pathways. The ‘social’ relates to your context, community and the facilities you have access. The ‘self’ refers to all the things you do to take care of yourself.

Despite the wonders of the NHS, you’ll not be surprised to hear that it is what

we do for ourselves that makes the biggest difference for most people.

So, a health coach is trained to support people develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to look after themselves. It’s about real life support using motivational and behaviour change skills, and a good deal of compassion. It’s generally not about telling someone what to do, much more about supporting them to consider, and action, a plan that will work for them. As a GP I only have limited time to cover medical aspects, make diagnoses, test results, explain what’s going on. It works really well to work in partnership with health coaches who I know can help make this happen.