5 steps to support clients with complex health conditions

When a coaching client tells you that they have a complex health condition, Do you feel confident? Coaching them?

Or you start getting a suit Impostor syndromeWondering if your client should look for another coach?

Here is a reminder for you: Health trainers Behavior change specialist. That means you present part of the puzzle that is often missing in your client’s wellness journey. You work closely with each of your clients to understand them, to support them and to offer a collaborative space to work towards their health goals. This is especially true for people with or without complex health conditions.

If you have a client with a complex health condition, there is much you can do to feel more prepared, change your coaching process to meet your client’s needs, and ultimately, be a source of support for your client.

This article gives you a five-step process to support your coaching client with a complex health condition.

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What is a complex health condition?

The US Institute of Medicine has proposed a set of criteria for serious complex health conditions. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Life-threatening (cancer, health diseases, and stroke)
  • Create serious disability, not necessarily life-threatening (spinal cord injury, birth defects, stroke)
  • Causes significant pain or discomfort that causes serious disruption to life activities (allergies, migraines, arthritis)
  • A significant period of time requires major commitment of time and effort from caregivers (ongoing disorder, blindness, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia, depression, Down’s syndrome).
  • Requires frequent monitoring (diabetes, asthma, schizophrenia)
  • Predict or deal with serious consequences (high blood pressure associated with heart disease, depression associated with suicide)
  • Associated with negative consequences for others (HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis, high-risk pregnancy)
  • Management is required to narrow the physiological parameters (kidney failure, type 1 diabetes).
  • Multiple specialty adjustments are required (breast cancer, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy)
  • Affects multiple organ systems (cancer, diabetes, HIV / AIDS)
  • Treatment requires risk of complications (cancer, complex surgery)
  • Adaptation is required in a non-medical environment (running disorder, blindness, weakness, Alzheimer’s disease)

The US Medical Institute quotes, “It is important to recognize that these conditions can be serious and complex for some patients at some point in their illness or disability. The condition will not always be serious and complicated for all patients.”

Complex health conditions often require the assistance of a health professional or a team of professionals who specialize in that condition. Although it is helpful to diagnose a disease, many complex health conditions cannot be diagnosed despite examining and seeking specialists.

The role of health instructors in assisting clients with complex health conditions

Most healthcare delivery systems face serious challenges when it comes to meeting the unique and complex needs of people with complex health conditions. Often, a number of isolated organizations are involved in diagnosing, treating and managing complex health situations, including private clinics, government hospitals and insurance companies, all of which are directly affected by public health policy. As a result, the quality of care that people with complex health conditions receive is often inadequate.

A Research growing body Shows that health coaches have an increasingly important role to play in improving patient outcomes.

Health trainers help:

  • Client relationships improve Has a positive effect on the patient’s anxiety and improves their adherence to the treatment plan with their doctor.
  • Increase client engagement Healthcare uses communication strategies that help patients move into an active learning role in managing their health.
  • Improve Health outcomes In people with chronic and complex diseases.
  • To improve Health outcomes Minorities and low-income people.

These strengths can be applied to your personal coaching practice.

5 steps to coaching a client with a complex health condition

Learn about conditions

When your client voluntarily reveals that they have a serious health condition, it is important to take your time to learn more from both your client’s perspective and a theoretical perspective.

Ask your client if they are willing to share their experience with their complex medical condition. If they are comfortable, you can ask them:

  • How are you feeling?
  • How it affects them internally (mental and emotional well-being)
  • How it affects them externally (physical, financial, occupational, cultural, social well-being)
  • How have they experienced with medical professionals (if they see anyone)
  • If their insurance covers treatment, testing and management
  • Where you can learn more
  • If anything, they want you to know about it

In addition, it is important to do your own research on the condition. Review your textbooks, read recent research, and look for reputable sources of information online. Many research and advocacy organizations contain patient and medical professional information pages. Focus on the signs, symptoms, progression and treatment as well as how it can affect diet, physical activity, communication, energy levels and more.

Ask them what they need from you

“How can I support you?”

This simple question lets clients know that you value them and their experience. You are not going to guess how you can help them or give them unsolicited advice. If they are unsure, you can talk to them about the role of the health trainer and Give examples The way you can support them always ensures that you are within the scope of your practice.

Even when you ask, you can expect a different answer.

They may say:

  • Nothing, just be aware of it.
  • If I think anything, I’ll let you know.
  • Support me to adapt my lifestyle to that situation.
  • Bring a nutrition or exercise plan that respects my condition.
  • Help me understand what my doctor is saying.
  • Support me to adhere to my treatment plan.
  • Help me understand how my condition is affecting my body.

And others. If your client says you don’t want to do anything specific to their health condition, for now, respect that decision. This is where you break.

If your clients want you to take a more active role in their health management, you can move on to the next step.

Ask if they see a specialist

If they see a specialist, there is probably a laboratory study, a diagnosis (or multiple diagnoses) and a treatment and management plan. You can ask them to see you or ask your client to explain them. Ask the specialist about their experience and what they feel is missing.

Asking these questions will help you get a better idea of ​​the context. Your role is not to question the healthcare team but to support them to better understand your client’s situation.

Ask permission to contact their health care team

If your client says it’s okay for you to contact their healthcare team, this is a great opportunity to do so:

  1. Work in coordination with your client’s healthcare team
  2. Help your client understand barriers from a clinical perspective
  3. Help fill in information gaps and assist health professionals who often do not have time for long appointments
  4. Advocate for your client’s needs

Create an informed coaching plan

Remember that complex health conditions may not be the focus of your session at any time. However, it is important to be aware of your client’s strengths and weaknesses, collaboratively to create a sustainable health plan with specific, achievable and realistic goals.

Be clear about what a coach is and what a coach is not. Unless you have a medical or nutritional license that allows you to do this, an instructor will not diagnose or treat a health condition. However, they help clients make healthy lifestyle choices.

You can learn more about do’s and don’ts Health and wellness coaching is here.

More on complex health conditions

The AFPA blog contains a wealth of information on complex health situations written for coaches.

You can search for health conditions AFPA Blog Search box, or you can skim some of the featured articles we’ve linked to below.

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  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK224968/
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2164956120904662
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16051927/

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