Health matching programme receives top award as part of NHS’ 75th birthday celebrations

Published: 15 June 2023

An innovative coaching scheme that’s helping people in Torbay and South Devon to take control of their health has won a prestigious parliamentary award.

Health Connect Coaching was designed by patients and staff from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, and matches people who may be struggling to manage their health and wellbeing with a trained peer coach who has experience of the same condition or challenges they face.

People with a long-term condition such as diabetes, asthma, rheumatology, and chronic pain can refer themselves to receive tailored one-to-one support during the six-month programme. With the help of a coach they are encouraged to make simple but long-lasting changes to their life such as taking gentle exercise or changes to their diet, and signposted to services and support. It’s designed to encourage, support and empower people to build their knowledge, skills and confidence in a way that matters most to them, reduce their dependency on medical interventions and live well to manage their condition.

The team has now won the South West volunteer award category in the 2023 Parliamentary Awards.

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust’s lead coordinator of Health Connect Coaching, Krystina Bones, said: “Health Connect Coaching is very different to the usual support people receive to manage their health. It was designed with patients who said they didn’t want to keep relying on their GP, nurse or other clinicians – they wanted to take control, but just needed some encouragement and practical advice from someone who knew what they were going through.

“Encouraging people to make simple changes to their lifestyle can help them to manage their condition. Matching them with someone who has walked in their shoes and just gets it has helped people to take control. I am so pleased that everyone involved has been recognised for their hard work.”

Liz Davenport, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust’s chief executive said: “I am incredibly proud that the team behind our health connect coaching programme has received such a prestigious award in recognition of their tireless commitment to improving people’s health and wellbeing.

“This is a great example of how we are taking a personalised approach to healthcare, and working with people to create the support they tell us they want, avoid hospital care and just get on with their life.

“We could not run Health Connect Coaching without our incredible volunteers and I would like to thank them for their tireless support.”

The team was nominated by Torbay MP Kevin Foster and Totnes’ MP Anthony Mangnall.

Mr Mangnall said: “I am delighted the hard work and commitment of the Health Connect Coaching team has been formally recognised at the NHS Parliamentary Awards. These dedicated volunteers provide a valuable service, sharing their own experiences to improve outcomes for patients across South Devon. I congratulate Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust on its innovative approach, and look forward to seeing the service expand further to offer support to an even wider range of people.”

Mr Foster added: “I was delighted to nominate the team for the work they do and it is great to see them being recognised with this award. Their innovative work to link those who have experience of long-term health conditions with those who have more recently been diagnosed with them or who are struggling to give them peer support is making a difference to many across south Devon.”

The team will now go forward to the national awards, which takes place at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster, London, on Wednesday 05 July – the NHS’ 75th birthday.