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Insight: Will healthcare coaching make a difference?

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6th Dec 2011
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With the Government’s healthcare reforms beginning to bite, the traditional approach of helping people get better after they’re seriously ill fails to address the underlying reasons for their health issues.
This approach also offers poor value for money when the NHS faces ever more challenging financing. A new sustainable model for healthcare is required. The UK's first Health & Well-Being Coach Training Programme has been designed to create an army of skilled coaches who can help their clients make lasting, positive changes to their health using the latest tools and insights from the fields of positive psychology, mindfulness training, motivational coaching and integral health.
Chronic diseases account for some 75% of total health care costs, many of which are preventable and directly related to poor lifestyle choices. Indeed, an estimated 85% of avoidable costs across the UK healthcare system are attributed to poor health-related behaviours. Lack of time with patients spent simply instructing them what to do in order to improve their health is often a short term fix for long term problems, yet this model is at the heart of the UK healthcare system. What’s required is often a change in mindset and lifestyle, through a coaching-based approach that works with individuals over the medium to long term in a way that helps them to access their inner resources, develop self-mastery skills and achieve their personal health goals. In addition to the health and cost benefits, side effects include an improved outlook among happier, more productive clients.
Commencing 6 March 2012, The Academy of Lifestyle Medicine’s Health & Well-Being Coaching course will train students from a diverse background including doctors, nurses, complementary medicine therapists, coaches and fitness professionals, as well as health enthusiasts and expert patients. The course consists of an intensive 36 week long distance learning programme followed by a rigorous certification programme.
Despite ever increasing budgets pouring in to the NHS, the UK healthcare system is in crisis and this generation may be the first to have a shorter life expectancy than the one before, due to an obesity epidemic and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. An overhaul of the way healthcare is viewed in this country is required. Skilled coaches can help bring the best possible standards of health and reduce the crippling costs of curing preventable diseases.
Dr Mark Atkinson from The Academy of Lifestyle Medicine summarises: “The future of medicine depends on the creation of a proactive healthcare service; one that empowers and supports individuals not just in recovering from disease but also in prevention through living healthier and more fulfilling lives. Health coaching is an integral part of making this happen.”
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