Jenita Lyons – “When you consider all of those barriers, health coaching sounds great but it’s not at the top of their list.”
From her experience previously working as a full-time health coach, Jenita knew that adding health coaching to the menu of services offered by Norton Children’s Hospital could be beneficial for their patient population. As the Health and Wellness Manager, Jenita conducts consultations with providers at several pediatric offices to provide patient services that address topics like injury prevention, health education, and nutrition. In her position, Jenita saw the possibilities health coaching could provide to supplement observed needs. Although she is still fine-tuning health coaching into Norton Children’s services, Jenita has already noticed how difficult it can be to reach the families who could benefit the most from coaching. Jenita recognizes and appreciates the advantages of health coaching. She has even integrated her skills as a coach into her parenting style, allowing her young children to problem solve and devise solutions on their own. However, in the case of her patient population, families are often facing barriers that overshadow the possibility of coaching.
Many of Norton Children’s clinics are strategically placed in high need areas so that they are more accessible to their patients. They’ve even expanded their hours to be more accommodating to patients who may not be able to schedule appointments during normal business hours. Despite these efforts, the patients Jenita wants to connect with the most are facing barriers that are prevalent throughout many healthcare systems. Lack of transportation, limited time due to working multiple jobs, balancing school-work schedules, food insecurity, and high poverty rates are major barriers to care. Jenita notes: “ When you consider all of those barriers, health coaching sounds great but it’s not at the top of their list.” Despite the challenges of integrating coaching into Norton Children’s Health and Wellness services, Jenita is devising innovative ways to incentivize parents to engage their children in coaching sessions. On the radar for next year are you-tube videos of cooking classes integrating many health coaching strategies like meeting families where they are, using affirmations, reflections, setting SMART goals, etc.