An innovative health coaching scheme, which started in 2017 at the Herstmonceux Integrative Health Centre, has been further expanded in Hailsham.

It has already caught the attention of health professionals nationally and features in a special film made by NHS England. The scheme increases the range of support available for local patients by providing a personal health coach to help with the four principles of wellbeing – Love, breath, eat, move - as well as sign posting to social activities.

“Physical activity plays a vital part in everyone’s health and wellbeing,” said Bea Simmons of the Herstmonceux Integrative Health Centre. “It also offers many people new opportunities to get out and socialise which can be so important to building up personal resilience. It’s this that helps patients to cope with any ongoing medical conditions. The scheme in Herstmonceux has helped more than 100 people and the benefits are clear to those who have taken part.”

The health coach scheme is now also available for patients at Bridgeside Surgery, Western Road, Hailsham, and follows the successful launch of the programme at Quintin Medical Centre, Hawkswood Road, earlier this year. Sessions with the health coach may take place at the Herstmonceux Integrative Health Centre.

The Health Coach scheme began as a partnership between the Herstmonceux surgery and Wealden District Council. It is partly-funded by NHS Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford Clinical Commissioning Group. It has the support of the NHS, Freedom Leisure and Vitality Villages.

As part of the initiative, patients receive advice on nutrition, movement and mindfulness. They are invited to take part in organised monthly and weekly drop in sessions as well as sessions at Hailsham’s Freedom Leisure Centre. They can join in other activities such as local walking groups and choral societies. Those that have taken part have reported feeling a range of health and wellbeing benefits and as well as becoming stronger and more resilient.

“Loneliness can be a real problem, particularly those living in rural areas like Wealden,” said Councillor Philip Lunn, Wealden Cabinet member for Community & Public Health. “An illness or bereavement can lead to a loss of confidence which makes it more difficult to deal with long-term health issues. The social benefits in working with a health coach and becoming involved in activities you enjoy cannot be underestimated.” 

Following referral by their GP, those taking advantage of the social prescribing scheme will be asked to make a simple commitment to achieving their own health and wellbeing goals. They will then be enrolled on to the successful, Sussex-based, three-step programme for free. This includes:

Coaching: Three confidential one-to-one sessions with a highly qualified health coach.

Learning: Free half-day course where the health coach unlocks the key to achieving your goals – includes a FREE toolkit.

Support: Unlimited evening drop-in support sessions, with free motivational talks and seminars covering the ten identifiable characteristics of a resilient person. Includes sessions such as yoga, nutrition, emotional wellbeing and first aid.

The short film about the original Herstmonceux initiative has been produced by NHS England and can be seen here: