East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH) has won an award for introducing coaching techniques into consultations with patients and clients in order to improve their care and health outcomes.
The social enterprise, which provides community health services in Norfolk and Waveney, was presented with the award for Best Coaching and Mentoring Initiative at the CAKE People Development Awards at Newmarket Racecourse.
For the past four years ECCH has been training its clinicians in health coaching techniques believing this can help patients to make healthier choices, motivate them to self-manage and improve their results. Health coaching is about having different conversations with patients, promoting health, independence and preventing the onset of acute illnesses.
The initiative has also benefitted ECCH staff who have reported feeling more confident that patients are happy with their care, feeling a greater sense of achievement and reduced pressure.
ECCH has trained more than 360 of its staff and nearly 100 from partner organisations in health coaching, and has six accredited coaches.
In 2016 ECCH Director of Quality Dr Noreen Cushen-Brewster led a group from across Norfolk’s health organisations to develop a Coaching Conversations programme and accompanying book with the University of East Anglia. The following year Health Education England and the Norfolk and Waveney Sustainability and Transformation Partnership backed this coaching programme and declared its ambition to equip the health and social care workforce across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex with coaching skills to use in their everyday conversations.
ECCH, which has its headquarters in Lowestoft, has also appointed its first “Behavioural Coach” within a local GP Surgery, focusing on improving the health behaviours of patients with chronic conditions. An evaluation of this post showed that, as well as being popular with patients, it resulted in consistent improvements in weight management and levels of hypertension.
Dr Cushen-Brewster said: “We are thrilled to have been recognised for the advances we have been making in introducing health coaching into all our conversations with users of our services. It helps people to take ownership of their care programme and set realistic goals that they want to achieve and that we can help them reach. I’m very proud of our training team and everyone at ECCH who has embraced health coaching principles with such enthusiasm.”
The judges said: “We were very impressed by this application of coaching. It clearly demonstrates the difference in outcomes when you empower people to manage their own health and wellbeing. A major element of our judging criteria is whether others can learn from the initiative and this entry certainly demonstrates the transferability of approach.”