By Leslee Jaquette
The latest trend in boomer and elder adult wellness education in Clark County is all about helping individuals get engaged in their own health. Local health educators explain that the wellness educational model "puts the person in the driver’s seat.” It seeks to build individuals’ confidence through a range of learning and support opportunities so they can use the available tools and take charge of their own health.
Along with “live” in-person classes, Kaiser Permanente offers educational formats such as multiple phone sessions with a well-trained health coach, live webinars, recorded webinars and online classes. It sees an estimated 17,000 members 50 + for education in Clark County per year and receives 11,000 member calls per year in the 50+ age group.
“Most of us know what we need to do but we need to build confidence and learn how to use the tools,” says Shawna Care, Kaiser Permanente interim regional manager for health education services, “So, our programs are designed to solicit positive self-talk so they can use the tools.”
Care notes that Kaiser Permanente’s most popular “live” classes and online classes are diabetes management, tobacco cessation, weight management and advanced directives. These small classes of 15 or less are formatted with skilled facilitators, who are trained to help the group discuss the issues, myths and facts. “Hands-on” classes such as the insulin class only take four students at a time.
While the educators at Kaiser Permanente are armed with a full arsenal of learning offerings, the latest “big gun” in their health education program is phone health coaching. Care explains that transportation and mobility issues have encouraged the company to shift its delivery system. So, in 2003 it initiated single phone consultations. However, due to the convenience, personal and successful nature of the format, for the past 2.5 years Kaiser Permanente has offered multiple calls for members and health coaches.
For example, a member wants to lose a few pounds. Her provider prescribes a health coach, who talks to the member about her goals. They create a plan. They engage in five to seven follow-up conversations, or however many it takes, that typically last from 10 to 30 minutes.
These conversations take into account the member’s needs. If a member says she needs to clean out a drawer before she can start, the coach says, “No problem, ”and calls back a week later to ask, “Is the drawer cleaned out?”
Care says that phone health coaching has become a mainstay at Kaiser Permanente. Members like it and outcomes measured in terms of confidence as well as physical changes such as reduced number of prescriptions or blood pressure show the model really works.
PeaceHealth also encourages patients and members of the public to “take the wheel” of their health by providing a broad range of free “live” and online resources designed to make health information easy and accessible.
“Yes, we offer many classes on prevention such as Healthy Eating 101, but what makes us unique is our realistic approach,” says Marjorie Marchand, community outreach coordinator. “People need help managing conditions such as diabetes and arthritis, so we offer classes such as Living Well with Chronic Conditions.”
Besides the chronic conditions class, which starts another six-week series in February, the YOU 101: How-to Improve YOU program provides a full range of basic educational services. It also helps inform the public about what is available at the hospital. “We have gone beyond prevention classes to include ways to take control of your own condition,” explains Marchand. “We offer simple tips, ‘human stuff,’ you can do every day to inspire healthy living.”
Although it is difficult to calculate the different age group demographics of YOU 101, Marchand estimates that about 60 to 70 percent of the participants are age 50 to 70. The most popular classes include: Healthy Eating 101, New Grandparents, Living Well with Chronic Conditions, Back 101 and Arthritis 101.
Every month or two PeaceHealth also sponsors free “Talks with Doctors” on subjects such as prostate and breast cancer, headaches and migraines and knee and hip replacements. These talks are attended by all ages from 29 to 79. The next talk, Plastic Surgery Options, is scheduled for Feb. 10.
Naturopath Dr. Cynthia Bye of Vancouver gives a variety of free health and wellness talks to community groups throughout Clark County. She is a favorite speaker for Clark College, PeaceHealth, and cancer support and community groups. She also speaks at corporate wellness events.
While Dr. Bye discusses topics ranging from Aging in the Brain to The Gut-Brain Connection, she is most known for her cancer education. Board Certified in Naturopathic Oncology, about 80 percent of her patients are cancer patients. In her practice and in her talks, Dr. Bye emphasizes, “I empower patients to take charge of their own health.”
Those interested in learning more about topics such as How to Detox, What is Naturopathic Medicine and Common Threads I See in Cancer Patients, are encouraged to visit Dr. Bye’s website or call her office for a schedule of upcoming talks.
For more information:
Kaiser Permanente Health Educa-tion Services: 503-240-3911, www.kp.org/thrive
PeaceHealth Community Outreach: 360-514-3105; www.swmedicalcenter.org
Dr. Cynthia Bye: 360-695-8800; www.dr-bye.com