I am a health and wellbeing coach in Havering North and it is my role to work with patients who are struggling to manage on their own.
I am really enjoying my job because, although it can be a challenging, emotional and difficult one, it’s very rewarding. To see a patient walk in to your room crying, feeling low, lost or isolated, then see them leave with a smile, makes my day. It takes courage for them to share their stories. The difference just one session can make is amazing. Sometimes they just need to be heard.
It is also a wonderful feeling when I see people becoming more confident with managing their health issues over time.
How I work
People are referred to me by their GPs and other practice staff including nurses, receptionists, social prescribers and dieticians for non-medical problems that are impacting their health and wellbeing– such as obesity, being unable to sleep, menopause or pre-diabetes to name but a few.
I cover seven GP surgeries and I have rooms in five of them over three days. The other two days, I work from home. On a typical day in a surgery, I book up to 2/3 patients in the morning and then 3/4 in the afternoon. I try to see the patient face to face for their first consultation and then it’s up to them whether they want to see me face to face or have telephone calls for follow ups.
I have worked really hard to get rooms in the surgeries, meeting up with practice managers and have attended meetings at two of the practices (I started less than three months ago.) Getting to meet the staff and tell them about my role and how I can support them at the GP surgery has made such a difference; I feel like part of the team! It’s also important for them to meet me and ask questions.
When working from home, I accept the referrals that have been sent to me on the JOY app (a social prescribing case management system used by some place-based partnerships in north east London) and send each person an email, with a letter. It explains that they have been referred, what they can expect from a health and wellbeing coach, and that they will be contacted as soon as there is a space. As spaces come up, I phone patients in the order I received their referral, introduce myself and ask if they would like an appointment. Only one person has refused so far.
I keep in contact with other practitioners via WhatsApp groups. One where I stay in contact with the dietician, mental health practitioner and two social prescribers that support the same GP surgeries as me. Another for all the people working in ‘additional roles’ as part of the bigger general practice team. And a third for health and wellbeing coaches I have met at the peer support online meetings for north east London. We just check in with each other every now and then.
I have attended the first part of the Know Your Own Health training that we have in north east London and it has been invaluable. We also have six supervisions with one of the tutors and that is really good. It gives me a chance to discuss and reflect on what I have been doing. It’s great to know there is support for this new way of coaching.