Q1. How long have you been a Health Trainer?
Q2. What inspired you to become a Health Trainer? (a bit about your background)
I studied a degree in Human Nutrition here in London and developed a passion for public health. I wanted to find a role where I could combine my knowledge alongside my passion for public health and also working with vulnerable groups as I have a disability myself. I’m a strong motivator and enjoy working with individuals on a 1:1 to help them so the health trainer role seemed absolutely ideal to what I was looking for.
Q3. What do you enjoy most about being a Health Trainer?
I enjoy the diversity of the clients that we meet whether it’s health conditions, age, disability, interests, culture and religion. I love learning all the time so working with such a diverse range of individuals has been an invaluable learning curve for me. As a nutritionist my knowledge has expanded far beyond, my view around a person’s health and wellbeing has changed from a nutrition aspect to a more holistic view.
The job itself is quite diverse and each day and week is different to the next. It can range from promoting to groups e.g. giving a healthy eating talk to a mental health charity, catching up with partners to boost referrals and support clients or seeing clients in different community settings such as libraries, community centres, churches and leisure centres.
Also, working in a team of diverse backgrounds has helped me progress so much in my role as every day I continue to learn from them and their own experiences. It’s been a fascinating journey to date working with my team, partners and clients.
Q4. What impact has being a Health Trainer had on you?
I started out in my role with very little belief in myself. I had no confidence in my knowledge due to a previous negative experience at my university in relation to my disability which had a profound impact on me. I saw my disability at the time being a bigger problem than my new job as a health trainer. Over time in my new role, my team leaders and colleagues helped me build my self confidence back. With their endless support and encouragement I started to believe in myself again. My clients also gave me confidence in myself when complimenting my skills and how I have helped them. Seeing results of their improvements and seeing them achieving their health and wellbeing goals has been a fascinating experience that I will always cherish.
Q5. Please describe a typical day in your life as a Health Trainer?
When I arrive at the office I would get myself ready for one of the community centres I work in. This would involve putting together my files for the clients that I would see, my resources such as food diaries, physical activity diaries and information booklets they might need. I check which clients need to be contacted in order to be booked in for their appointments and if I’ve received any new referrals. I usually slip on trainers and take the opportunity to fit in a walk on route! After all we have to set good examples as health trainers! 🙂
When I arrive at the community centre I sign in and set up my room that is booked for me. Depending on the client if it’s their first appointment we would fill in the necessary paper work and discuss what they want to get out of the sessions while I create a picture of their health and wellbeing. I like to use the first session to help them feel at ease and talk freely so I can get to know my clients better in order to see where I can best sign post them to other services while supporting them with their personal health plans.
Reviews can be a discussion on:
The goals themselves are quite diverse and it’s important that we are flexible and good listeners with our clients as most are vulnerable. Other sessions can include popping over to the supermarket and learning about food labels to going to a yoga class together as some clients need that initial support with their first class particularly if they have very low confidence around others.
I spend about an hour with initial assessments and up to half an hour with reviews. I usually spend half a day here and then head back to the office for admin.
Admin usually would involve inserting my client’s information from that day on our data system, checking emails from my organisational partners and my team.
Q6. What impact does your role as a Health Trainer have on the clients you work with?
From my client’s feedback and my own observation of their progression in the sessions they gain more self confidence, more motivation to take up a new class or get back into their old hobbies and interests, they feel less stressed and happier by the end of the sessions. My main aim is to help them feel more empowered so they can become their own health trainers and I feel most do achieve this. Clients often wish the sessions were more frequent because they really like having someone to talk to for longer about their health and needs. When visiting their GP they find it difficult as they have little time to explain everything and having so many appointments for different things means less time to talk. One vital bit of feedback I found from a few of my clients is that when they had sessions with a health trainer it was a chance to be able to talk about all their conditions and support needs in one setting and from there they could figure out themselves what’s best for their health in going forward rather than going to different health professionals for different things “compartmentalising”. Therefore I feel we have a huge impact as health trainers on local people’s wellbeing in particular.
Q7. Do you have any quotes from clients that I can use in the case study that positively describe the experience of engaging with a health trainer?
(From feedback forms)
“I feel more confident to take control of my own health”
“I like green spaces because it makes me feel less stressed but I only have a balcony, so I’ve discovered from my sessions I can create my own green space on my balcony”
“Losing weight has given me back some of my self esteem I’m really pleased with myself for sticking with it”
“I feel for the first time I’ve found a professional that will listen to me about my numerous conditions to help me make a plan on how to manage my health”
“I like that I can see a health trainer in my local community centre”
“I’m proud of myself for doing more with my week even when I’m feeling low I make sure I have pencilled something in my diary so that when I do it I feel I have achieved something that day”
Q8. Anything else you can think of that would be good to add to a mini case study that would illustrate the social impact the health trainer service has on local communities?
I really like that in my role I can see almost any client and be flexible to their needs whether they can’t walk far from home and need to see me nearby or they don’t feel comfortable in a GP practice and I can meet them in a different setting. We still see high percentage of women and lower percentage of men and I like that within our roles we have the ability to go out and promote more to groups where mostly males attend to try overcome this barrier.
Health trainers have a vital role in public health. They have the ability to link up services together in the local community by sign posting clients to them, attending events with services and closer partnership working with these services. This has quite a big impact on the health and wellbeing of that particular community and ultimately can reduce hospital admissions, GP and nurse appointments and reduced hospital stays therefore lowering costs of NHS on the whole in the short and long term.