Meet the Team - Alison Hood, Health & Wellbeing Coach Team Leader

Our fantastic Health & Wellbeing Coach Team Leader, Alison Hood, took the time out of her busy schedule to sit down with us. We discuss her career at Rehab Direct, what being a Health & Wellbeing Coach (HWC) entails, and how she got to 2nd place in a bodybuilding competition!

Hi Alison! Could you please introduce yourself and your role here at Rehab Direct?

My name is Alison Hood and I am the Health & Wellbeing Coach Team Leader at Rehab Direct.

Health and Wellbeing Coaches support people to increase their ability to self-manage and commitment to change their lifestyle. They provide support, guidance, and resources to help individuals develop healthier habits and behaviours, such as healthy eating, exercise, sleep, and stress management.

The biopsychosocial model is a key part of our approach to better understand, encourage, and advise individuals. Generally, the patients that we deal with have been through the bio stage of their injury or pain and GPs have done as much as they can do. New research is showing that a person with chronic pain does well with other types of support – that’s where the psychological and social support comes in, and where we come in.

We look at all those different aspects of a person’s life, from their sleep, diet, social interactions, and their activity. A lot of these people are deconditioned because they’ve remained amid a pain cycle, so they’re not necessarily going out, walking, stretching or moving.

We very much encourage people to use pacing as well as other mindfulness tools. We look at all aspects of a person’s life outside of the medical diagnosis to help them find other ways of improving their lifestyle, their social activity and generally improving their health and wellbeing.

We’re not saying that we can necessarily cure the pain, but we are providing the tools that are easily attainable for a lot of people to help them get a little bit of control back in their life and generally improve their lifestyle.

What are your key responsibilities?

The Health & Wellbeing team is really growing at Rehab Direct so I’ve recently taken on a Team Lead role. I did the Central Doncaster pilot when I first came and now we’re taking on new prime PCNs which will all have at least one HWC and a physio, sometimes more. So my role now is to help train those people through call monitoring and inductions to get them onto the telephones to be with patients.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is also part of my role. As the team continues to grow, it’s important that our continuous learning and growth is managed. I do this on top of working with pain clients through the pain pathway to help them live better despite pain.

What does an average day look like for you?

My days can look quite varied at Rehab Direct but an average day would include patient calls. These in themselves are always very varied because everybody feels pain differently and everybody deals with it differently. During our calls, we build rapport with the patient, find out what makes them tick, where they’re doing well in life, and figure out what they want help with – for a lot of people, that isn’t obvious. It’s all about shared decision making, We’re working with these people, we’re not prescribing – we talk to them. And sometimes, the most important thing for the patient is the time that we can give them.

Sometimes we will be encouraging exercise and providing gym plans, but most of the time, we’re simply encouraging the individual to get out of their chair, move their joints, and stretch the muscles. It’s all about balance – it’s really guiding people back to health through healthy eating, fresh air, helping them with sleep, sleep hygiene, and making sure that they’re not overdoing it.

When I’m not in a patient call, I’m making sure the team have everything they need, training and working with Faye (Operations Manager) to make sure that all administration tasks are completed (diaries, logins, and smart cards), call monitoring, induction forms and all the good stuff that Team Leaders need to keep on top of! After work, I like to go for a walk or head to the gym.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Working on the initial Pilot in Central Doncaster helping patients with Chronic Pain.

It was very different because I hadn’t intended to change my job. I had my own gym in Firehouse Fitness and had personal trainers working for me – it was a really successful business, but I had been working in personal training for 10 years and I was starting to get tired, juggling the business, life, and looking after my children.

Shane Beard, CEO of Firehouse Fitness and very much connected with Unity Health Group, handed me the Rehab Direct Health & Wellbeing Coach job description and thought that it might be of interest to me – which it was! The job intrigued me; I liked what I read and the idea of what it stood for. I started in September and dived straight into the pilot.

It was an incredibly rewarding part of my career. When you see people’s lives improve, even in the smallest way, it’s an incredible feeling. It’s a privilege really. Obviously you’re doing that with personal training, but some of these patients were really struggling. Some patients couldn’t make their bed or move their curtains, and when they finally could, it was life-changing for them. I don’t think I expected quite that impact, to be honest.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy all aspects of my role, especially patient success stories and seeing other HWC working closely with the patients. If you can make a difference to their lives, then it’s just rewarding on every level. It’s nice seeing my colleagues feeling the same too – it means that they obviously care about their patients and it’s a great environment to be in. We all genuinely care about our patients and want to make a positive impact.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Working with a very successful team in Pain Management delivering great services across the country. Rehab Direct is growing and growing, and that is certainly something to be excited about.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself!

I came 2nd in a body building competition!

I used to work as a team manager for a big corporate company and, after I had my children, I decided that I didn’t want to go back into that environment. I had been there since college and I was looking for a different direction, so I trained to be a personal trainer and started working in a gym.

In around 2014/2015 it was quite fashionable to compete, so I thought why not give it a go?

I put myself through the process because, if nothing else, it would give me an understanding of the discipline needed. It was intense!

In 2015 I did Miss Galaxy Universe, which was a bit more glam, but also had an element of athletics, too. So you did your stage work, then you went to the arena and you competed in sprints and all kinds of activities that you’d expect in athletics that you’d have been prepping for for about 14 weeks.

Then I decided to do physique. Spent a year gaining mass, eating 4000 calories a day, and came 2nd in the bodybuilding competition. I really enjoyed it, but then soon had an injury which put life into perspective for me. I crushed my leg, and that left me non weightbearing for 18 weeks. I had some rehabilitation to get back to walking, but it had put an end to my competition days.

I’m proud of my achievement though and I’m glad I did it.

If you didn’t do this job, what would you be doing?

Running my Personal Training business. I probably wouldn’t be doing as many hours as I was originally doing though!

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Hardworking, compassionate and fun

27 February 2023

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