What is an individual or personal health plan?
Health and wellness coaches spend a lot of time working to develop a relationship with their clients. They want to ensure that an atmosphere of trust and support is developed because partnership is essential to the success of personal health care plans. Many health coaches offer their client health plans online for an added benefit of daily access. Higher rates of interaction and accountability lead towards greater success. Let’s take a look at the features of an individual health plan and how the support of a personal health coach ensures a better patient or client outcome.
Personal health plans typically consists of the following parts:
- Client assessment (lifestyle, diet, behavioral, nutrition, fitness)
- Client-centered goals (weight loss, stress reduction, chronic condition reversals, etc.)
- Action steps (What will be done, how often, at what intensity…)
- Accountability (checking in with the coach, social tie-ins)
- Measuring progress (self-monitoring, along with objective monitoring measures)
- Goal achievement!
- Client assessment: Holistic and integrative health care often refers to a 6-dimension health wheel with the components: Intellectual, Emotional, Physical, Occupational, Social & Spiritual. These professionally-accepted health wheel terms correlate with common terms of usage. Fore example, nutrition and fitness are group into the “Physical” dimension of the wheel, and behavioral would fit into the “Mental” or “Intellectual” portion of the Health Wheel.
As a health and wellness coach, you may wish to develop your own assessments tools or questionnaires based on these criteria. However, if you are employed by an organization, these tools may well be provided and standardized.
The answers your client provides will help to develop conversations around these topics and therefore, informally assess your client’s comfort levels with each area. Primarily, you will use the assessment tool to pinpoint the areas of strengths and areas of need in developing the best health plan for your client.
You may find it helpful to review examples of questions for building your own personalized health plan assessment tool.
2. Client-centered goals: Based on the feedback from your assessment tool, informal conversation and client feedback, you will develop goals as a part of the personalized health plan. If your client has expressed a desire to lose weight, you will likely find that that area on their questionnaire was highlighted. Questions such as, “Do you feel you are at your ideal weight?” “On a scale of 1 to 10, how difficult you find it to monitor portion-control,” or “Do you feel you intake adequate nutrition with numerous fruits and vegetables in your diet?” are just some of the assessment questions that you can target to begin to develop weight loss goals.
If the client answered that they are not at their ideal weight, a goal would be towards reaching that weight through various support steps, described below, in their individual health plan.
3. Action steps: With the chosen goal in mind, a series of steps are written as a means to achieve the end result. Let’s say for this example, the person’s ideal weight is 125 pounds, but they currently weigh 140 pounds. Action steps to reach this goal include what activities the client will be actively working on, how often they will do the activities, at what intensity and so forth.
A word here – Remember, a health plan is a whole body, mind, spirit approach. It is holistic in nature. For the purposes of giving an example, we are choosing to discuss weight loss. However, it should be noted that a complete individual health plan would take into account a multitude of factors and goals ranging across the continuum of the health wheel. These action steps would support each other, as even with the example of weight loss. For to lose weight, levels of nutrition and fitness must be achieved, in addition to a positive mental attitude and emotional state. In holistic medicine, everything is tied together, and one component affects another, to make up the whole.
4. Accountability: A health coach keeps you accountable. Given personal sessions, one on one support, group meetings, telephone or even with health plans online, a client is paying for the support of a personal health and wellness coach. At the outset of establishing the client-coach relationship, the degree of services will be decided and that will largely dictate the fee paid to the health coach.
You may have weekly meetings, with occasional email check-ins, or any number of arrangements depending on what type of employment path you follow in this field. In any scenario, however, accountability is a significant portion of what your client is seeking. Checking in and even self-reporting is part of the overall health plan. Family members and friends can be a valuable social resource for supporting the client as well, and should be encouraged.
5. Measuring progress: As accountability is observed, there will be ample opportunities to measure a client’s progress. This may take the form of a check-in phone call in which the health coach records information from the client. It may also be the client recording their information on charts at home. Progress may also be measured by meeting with the wellness coach for formalized measurements (as in the case of weight loss), or for further questionnaires to measure attitude changes or behavioral modifications.
Progress monitoring is a crucial component of a personal health care plan, whether as an in-person personal coaching session, or as a part of an online health plan. The success of small and large improvements over time give motivation and joy to your client. When they begin to connect results with these emotions of success and well-being, they begin to transform their lives. This is what wellness coaching is all about!
6. Goal-achievement: Many clients will have multiple goals in their personal health plan, so success may come in parts over time. One of the purposes of their plan is to create changes in habits, thinking and behavior, which will in turn affect their choices, lifestyle and overall health. This takes time to change. However, with specific objectives and a qualified and trusted health and wellness coach, this is very possible.
When clients achieve their wellness goals, it can be truly life changing for them. Remember to celebrate small successes, as well as the larger ones. All positive change should be celebrated. Goal-achievement may or may not be the end of your coaching relationship. Some clients may opt for monthly or quarterly check-ins to maintain the success they have created. In any case, they should leave from your services feeling capable and equipped to get back to their plan if they find themselves regressing. Permanent change is difficult, but is possible with support.
A holistic health and wellness coach can create the very best health plan with their clients by following these basic guidelines.