Coaching people away from life with diabetes

It costs the NHS billions of pounds every year – and the number of those diagnosed with diabetes in the county is on the rise.

Health coach Carmen Lyndley
Health coach Carmen Lyndley

But studies have revealed that many people may not even know they have it.

Health experts say early signs to look out for include increased thirst, frequent urination, tiredness and itchiness – and without lifestyle changes, those at risk are more likely to go on to develop the disease.

For the last few months, residents across the county have been able to take their health into their own hands.

A new Diabetes UK ‘know your risk’ tool, is scoring people on their risk of developing type two diabetes – which has been linked to inactivity as well as being overweight.

Those classed as 'moderate' or 'high' can refer themselves to a local scheme that is part of the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, where they can get easy access to free health and lifestyle coaching.

Type two diabetes can be caused by being overweight and inactive

Carmen Lyndley is a health and wellness coach who supports patients as part of the programme in Shropshire.

She works with personalised digital health coaching provider, Liva Healthcare, which provides the free service in the county alongside non-profit health provider, Living Well, Taking Control.

Looking after hundreds of patients every year, Carmen meets with them, virtually, on a weekly basis to offer advice through Liva’s app.

“Seeing people transform their lives is why I get up in the morning," she said.

"By spending time to get to know each person, and supporting them with compassion, patients feel inspired to make lifestyle changes to establish new habits for a healthier, more enjoyable life.

"Being able to offer support to patients wherever they are is really useful.

"Patients love the app functions, where I can check-in on their progress and provide tips and advice to my patients."

Health coach Carmen Lyndley

Everyone participating in the programme has a choice between app-based, one-to-one personal coaching support and in-person support groups.

The digital behaviour change programme, from Liva Healthcare, starts out with an hour-long assessment with a health coach to discuss goals and objectives.

Patients begin a year of regular coaching sessions and advice to encourage a lasting lifestyle change – benefitting from around 26 digital personal coaching sessions in total.

Carmen says her role has become more important than ever during the coronavirus outbreak and the impact on many has been clear to see.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, I have seen more patients struggling with sleep, stress and diet," she said.

"Lockdown has increased snacking, emotional eating and the consumption of alcohol.

"This makes health coaching and support even more important.

“You don’t have to make lifestyle changes alone.

"There is fantastic support available to Shropshire residents."

Rising numbers

Earlier this year, analysis from Diabetes UK showed the number of people diagnosed with the disease across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Wales had increased by more than 5,000 from 2017/18 to 2018/19.

The charity has warned that the number, including the undiagnosed population, could rise to 5.3 million in the UK by 2025.

Type two diabetes can be caused by being overweight and inactive and figures from Public Health England show 72 per cent of adults in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin were classed as overweight or obese in 2018-19 – whereas the national average stood at 62 per cent.

LloydsPharmacy, which has several branches in Shropshire, is now offering weight loss treatments alongside regular consultations with a trained pharmacist.

It is supplemented by the same free access to personalised, online health coaching through Liva Healthcare’s digital programme.

The coach delivers a video consultation, followed by weekly coaching interventions through the Liva UK app where patients can engage one-to-one with their coach, track vital metrics within nutrition, exercise and lifestyle, and interact with peer-to-peer support groups.

Top tips

Dr Roger Henderson, GP and medical director of Liva Healthcare, says his top tips for losing weight sustainably include the need to set realistic goals, take small steps and reach out for help if it's needed.

He added: "Relationships are key to driving long- term behaviour change. Don’t try and do it alone.

"Consult with your GP, a health professional or even a family member or friend to help keep you on track and accountable for the changes you want to make.

"Get feedback from someone you trust and who you believe can help you along the way to achieving your goals.

"Long-term behaviour and lifestyle changes come from consistent small changes in behaviours that eventually lead to permanent changes in habits.

"It can be small levels of activity, such as walking for half an hour each day, that can tip the balance towards losing versus gaining weight in the long run."

To reduce the risk of getting type two diabetes, Dr Henderson says smokers should quit, while people should get their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked as well as cutting out refined sugar from their diet.

To access the Diabetes UK ‘know your risk’ tool visit know-your-risk.lwtcsupport.co.uk/are-you-at-risk-of-type-2-diabetes

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