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The role of a health coach

Health coaches are available to the enrolled population of general practice(s) and community settings, as one member of the integrated primary mental health and addiction team. They work closely with the health improvement practitioner and other members of the general practice team to support the enrolled population to meet their health and wellbeing needs.

Health coaches come from a variety of backgrounds, and work with people experiencing issues that impact on their health and wellbeing. Health coaching aims to build people’s motivation and capability to better understand and self-manage their physical and emotional wellbeing needs. These can be related to long-term physical or mental health conditions or substance use and everyday emotional or physical wellbeing challenges. The health coach supports people and their whānau to access community and online resources and supports to enhance their social, emotional and physical wellbeing.

The role is derived from the health coach role originally developed in the US and is adapted for the Aotearoa context. Examples of adaptations are the teamwork with the HIP and wider integrated primary mental health and addiction team, provision of support for self-management of emotional wellbeing as well as long term conditions, and delivery that is culturally safe and appropriate for the people of Aotearoa. The following are core components of the role:

  • supporting wellbeing
  • accessibility and responsiveness
  • seamless delivery
  • training, skills, and knowledge.

Health coach training

Te Pou co-ordinates the delivery of health coach training for the integrated primary mental health and addiction programme. The health coach training programmes are delivered through two training providers, Tāmaki Health and Health Literacy NZ in cohorts of 10-12 people. The programmes are designed for people who are employed to provide health coaching in general practice and community settings, as part of the integrated primary mental health and addiction programme. Read the Ministry of Health’s practice profile.

Learning outcomes

This outlines the learning outcomes and required topics for the delivery of the national health coach training in the integrated primary mental health and addiction programme. How it is structured by each programme provider will be slightly different.

Learning outcome 1

Work in partnership with people from diverse backgrounds and health contexts to improve their emotional and physical wellbeing

Required topics for learning outcome include:

  • support people’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing in an integrated way by intentional identification of non-physical challenges to connect with emotional wellbeing
  • understand mental health and addiction challenges, linkages between them and physical health conditions using Equally Well
  • Te Whare Tapa Wha foundation, looking at all four walls together
  • use Hua Oranga, Duke and helpfulness rating scales
  • understand and have processes to support people with the physical long-term conditions specified in the RFP
  • operate in a values-based way, aligned with the Essential level of Let’s get real, including self-reflection using a recognised framework
  • communication and engagement skills that build connection and facilitate choice eg active listening, open questions, enquiry, non-judgemental language, managing assumptions, accessible explanations, using compassion and empathy
  • operate in a culturally safe way, guided by what the person needs, recognising institutional racism, power and privilege and your own bias and using a model of engagement appropriate for population groups in the practice community
  • working with whānau to support individuals
  • work in a variety of settings which meet the needs of whaiora and whānau eg home visits, community settings, community classes, and groups
  • introduce motivational interviewing and other processes that support behaviour change decisions
  • develop people’s aspirations into goals and action plans
  • use adult learning principles to build on people’s existing knowledge and skills about their situations (eg not just providing reading materials)
  • operate with a trauma-informed approach, including recognition of historical and ongoing colonisation impacts and ACEs.

Learning outcome 2

Work collaboratively within the primary care team

Required topics for learning outcome include:

  • understand the health coach role alongside others in the team and know how to build working relationships with these
  • how the health coach role complements the health improvement practitioner and community support worker functions when supporting the same person
  • provide timely feedback and discussion with team members about whaiora
  • prepared to integrate into different types of primary health contexts
  • raise awareness of the health coach role
  • connect people with other team members to support continuity of care. Includes primary care, whānau ora and community organisation contexts
  • work within the primary health team to improve access and choice for Māori, Pasifka, and youth
  • time management to provide support to 8-10 people a day, including scheduled appointments, warm handovers, and meeting with whānau and groups
    capturing individual, whānau and group meetings in notes, record keeping and data-base systems to required standards and procedures.

Learning outcome 3

Connect people with services and resources to support their emotional and physical wellbeing

Required topics for learning outcome include:

  • access and navigate services relevant to the whaiora and community. Both health related and life related (eg justice, housing, benefits, marae/iwi)
  • coach people to navigate the health and social systems
  • provide introductions, and effective communication to services, meeting privacy procedures
  • maintaining contact with services while jointly working with whaiora
  • find and provide relevant information and resources.

Learning outcome 4

Health coach maintains wellbeing and safety

Required topics for learning outcome include:

  • health coach self-care
  • health coach support networks
  • identify potential safety issues and know how practice and provider procedures can manage these eg home visits, transporting people, community activity groups, supervision, boundaries
  • receiving, reflecting on, dealing with, and giving feedback.

Tāmaki Health’s programme

Phase one of the training programme is generally delivered face-to-face over five consecutive days. The location is determined by where the majority of trainees are based.

Phase two is conducted onsite in the trainee’s practice, usually 2-4 weeks after phase one, where the trainer supports the trainee in their locality and assesses their competency skills.

Phase three usually happens about 3-6 months after phase one training. It includes six fortnightly webinars, virtual mentoring and one day onsite in the trainee’s practice.

Tamaki health HC programme

Health Literacy NZ’s programme

This training programme has three components:

  1. A planning meeting with providers to find out about your organisation, community, collaborative partners, health coaches and how you will be working.
  2. Setting up for success – 18-hour workshop for health coaches, delivered online in 2-hour modules over one week, or face-to-face in a two day workshop.
  3. Ongoing support and mentoring for health coaches for 10 weeks by email, Zoom and phone; and webinars delivered by experts in primary care, health coaching, mental health and addiction.
  4. Bringing it all together – 8-hour workshop delivered online in four 2-hour sessions over 2-days; or one day face-to-face.
Health literacy NZ HC programme

Read more about the topics included in their programme here. Watch Susan Reid from Health Literacy NZ talk about their health coach training programme below.

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Resources

Te Pou has a wide range of evidence-based resources and tools to help the mental health, addiction and disability workforces.

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Our work

Te Pou works alongside mental health and addiction services, and disability organisations to understand their priorities and workforce challenges.

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