Health coaching scheme at West Suffolk Hospital is helping patients with long-term conditions

Trudi Dunn and Nina Finlay, senior physiotherapists at West Suffolk Hospital, have both qualified as

Trudi Dunn and Nina Finlay, senior physiotherapists at West Suffolk Hospital, have both qualified as accredited health coaching trainers as part of a regional initiative spearheaded by Health Education East of England. - Credit: Contributed

Health coaches at West Suffolk Hospital are supporting patients to manage long-term conditions as part of a new initiative.

Senior physiotherapists Trudi Dunn and Nina Finlay have both qualified as accredited health coaching trainers as part of a regional initiative spearheaded by Health Education East of England.

Over the coming 12 months, they will train 200 of their fellow West Suffolk clinicians in health coaching, giving them the right skills to motivate people to put their own health first and manage their conditions with more independence and confidence.

The newly-trained clinicians will use their everyday contact with patients, such as outpatient appointments or follow-up visits, to offer guidance and help them identify and fulfil meaningful personal goals. This could be anything from giving up smoking, so that they can see their family grow up, to increasing their fitness, so that they can walk to the park to play with their grandchildren.

The initiative comes in response to statistics which show that patients with long-term conditions account for 64% of all hospital outpatient appointments, 70% of bed days and 70% of the total health and social care spend.


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It is hoped the scheme will help tackle this trend by reducing re-admissions, length of stay and the need for further follow-ups after discharge, as well as further improve the experience patients have of using NHS services.

Ms Finlay said: “We are really excited to have been given the opportunity to roll out this innovative training to colleagues across West Suffolk Hospital.

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“We will be training staff from a variety of clinical backgrounds – including doctors, nurses and allied health professionals – the skills they need to talk to people in a way which supports and empowers them to make positive changes to their own lives.

“Health coaching can have a big impact on individuals, increasing their confidence, motivation and self-sufficiency and improving their quality of life. This can also have knock-on benefits for the NHS, as it reduces their reliance on health services and the need for repeat GP visits or hospital admissions.”

She said a pilot training programme at the hospital had had some great feedback from those who took part.

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