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Combatting Diabetes with a Whole-Person-First Approach


Combatting Diabetes with a Whole-Person-First Approach

November is National Diabetes Month and with good reason: according to the American Diabetes Association (2018), over 34 million people in the United States have diabetes, contributing to over $327 billion dollars in medical costs.

Did you know that Virgin Pulse has coaches that are specially trained to help address diabetes holistically enabling a level of personalized support and tailored guidance? To help further illustrate how Virgin Pulse Live coaches support members with diabetes, we sat down with one of our coaches, Jennifer and asked her a few questions

What are the most common goals you work on with participants who are in coaching for diabetes?

One of the most common requests from participants with diabetes is a desire to decrease their medication(s). We explore their lifestyle choices and assist the individual with identifying areas of potential change that can help them with their goal of decreasing medication(s). We then collaborate with developing small steps that move the individual toward their overall goal of decreasing medication while maintaining or improving their diabetes self-management skills. We can also guide the member with questions around their medication(s) to ask their provider in order to move in the direction in which they desire or refer to pharmacy coaches who can support [medication-related questions].

Another common goal of individuals with diabetes is weight loss. The coach explores the individual’s experience with weight loss and guides the individual to develop small doable steps to improve their lifestyle habits. The coach assists the member with exploring nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress, diabetes medication – all of which can have an impact on their weight.

What steps do you take to support the health and wellbeing of a participant with diabetes?

Coaches first listen to the participant and trust that they are their own expert about their health. We explore together what is most important to them to focus on. We provide education and/or resources if that is what the individual is seeking. We refer them to their healthcare provider, resources through their benefits and/or their community. We provide long-term support and collaborate on the individual’s goals for their health and overall wellbeing.

Is there a curriculum / care plan that participants follow in coaching for diabetes?

While coaching is informed by evidence-based clinical guidelines, each individual’s plan and education needs are unique. Our plan as health coaches begins with listening to the participant and assisting them with defining their personal goals that they want to focus on. We explore all aspects of their wellbeing - physical, mental/stress, sleep as well as their resources of support (medical providers, family, co-workers, friends). We help them define the barriers that get in the way of self-care and help them strategize how to work through the barriers. All aspects of life impact an individual’s ability to take care of their health, therefore, we approach the individual wholly.

Do participants receive "homework" in between sessions?

Yes, the coach and individual collaborate on overall goals and develop small steps the individual agrees to work on between sessions. At each session the coach and individual explore the progress as well as the barriers or challenges experienced between sessions. The coach and individual brainstorm solutions and/or experiments to [navigate] the barriers/challenges [and celebrate wins].

How do you integrate with health plan DM, case management and health care providers?

As coaches we explore the participant’s support network available to them through their benefits and their providers. Coaches can guide individuals with clinically complex cases to formulate questions for their providers, as well as refer or connect them with any benefits that may be helpful—including but not limited to case management, disease/condition management plans second opinion services, – all improving the continuity of their care. We often refer them back to their providers and help guide them with questions they have about their care plan (medication, nutrition, exercise, blood glucose monitoring, goals for labs, etc.). We encourage them to think of their providers as partners in their health care. We empower the participant to communicate their needs and goals with their providers in order to form a stronger partnership, which in turn improves their care and [care compliance].


Coach JenniferJennifer is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach with a master’s degree in Community Counseling. She spent over 20 years in clinical settings providing diabetes self-management education and training for individuals and groups. She has spent the past 15 years providing diabetes management skills as a telephonic health coach. She is grateful for the opportunity to talk with individuals monthly, while they are “doing life”. This setting provides rich teachable and supportive moments that has empowered individuals with diabetes to evolve into much healthier self-care behaviors.


Learn more about Virgin Pulse Live Services

In addition to diabetes, VP Live Coaching includes specialization in an industry-leading 22 conditions, providing total population lifestyle optimization to improve clinical outcomes, reduce costs associated with chronic conditions, slow, and at times reverse, the progression of chronic conditions, and provide localized support to drive lifestyle behavior change. Members access coaching resources directly through their app and once paired with a coach, they identify their goals for a thriving life and work together to progress toward their vision and achieve their targeted outcomes. To learn more about Live Services, reach out to your Client Success team.

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