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Toni Smith November 29, 2021

Retired rugby player tackles Diabetes

Alex, 56 from Nuthall, has tackled diabetes after a scrum with inactivity following his retirement from playing rugby – all with the help from a brand-new type of Coach. Starting in Spring 2021, Alex worked with Gareth, a Health and Wellbeing Coach from his local GP Surgery. Alex lost 11 pounds after one month and he pushed his Diabetes into remission by the third month.

A lover of sport, Alex used to play Rugby but he had to retire from the sport and couldn’t find an team-based activity that he enjoyed as much. Sadly, his dog passed away and so he also stopped going for walks every day. Alex started to find it difficult to motivate himself to be active and once his weight and blood sugars started to increase, he developed Type 2 Diabetes.

Alex says: “I couldn’t believe it when I found out. I was a bit angry with myself that I allowed it to happen. So all I’ve done since then is really really try hard to exercise and try and lose weight, but it’s always been a bit of a cycle. I tried to recover, but then the thing was, Covid happened. We’re all sent home, other things changed.”

Alex developed more conditions. He started going to the hospital every week for treatment which he describes as exhausting, and he was off work for 10 months with sickness.

Alex tried loads of ways to get back into an active lifestyle but things kept getting in the way. When his community Diabetic Specialist Nurse, Karen Richardson, suggested he talk with Gareth from the new Health and Wellbeing Service, Alex was ready to try something different.

Gareth Dixon works in a new type of role recruited and managed by Primary Integrated Community Services (PICS) on behalf of Nottingham West Primary Care Network.

Dr Emma Shapiro, Clinical Director for the PCN explains: “Health Coaching is a Supported Self-Management intervention which fits with the NHS Long Term Plan’s commitment to provide personalised care. Initially providing one to one coaching, the vision for the role is broader with developing a network of peer support groups, group consultations, expert patients and also train the trainers courses.”

In April 2021, Alex and Gareth started working together, they met every two or three weeks to check progress and to talk about any challenges and to identify any behaviour changes he needed to make.

Gareth explains how he met Alex and what his goals were: “I get lots of referrals from PICS Diabetes and Respiratory Services, Social Prescribers, GPs and Practice Nurses from all the surgeries in Nottingham West. I provide guidance and support so patients can take more of an active role in their own health care by setting realistic health related goals.

We provide six to eight sessions to help them work towards their goals.

“Alex needed the right support to turn things around for himself. I listened to his worries about lacking motivation to increase activity and change his diet. After talking through what was happening and what is possible, Alex identified some health-related goals, including a long-term aim to lose 3-4 stone. He decided that walking twice a day would be a good lifestyle and activity change, as well as to stop eating desserts, to reduce how much bread he ate and to eat more salads. He also said he would be healthier at the weekend.

“The conversations helped Alex realise he needed to do something and having the regular sessions really helped him. Off the back of our conversations he set some actions to start a meal planner, start walking every day and record his food on My Fitness Pal.

“Alex has done a really good job for himself and as well as achieving his short-term goals, he’s reduced the chance of further complications from Diabetes.”

Watch Alex explain how he’s changed his lifestyle and what the service has done for him. https://youtu.be/-XlnmOEDLTI