Happy new year!
We know lots of people are making new year’s resolutions to lose weight, or otherwise become healthier, so we’re ready for a new influx of clients across our Health Trainer and Lighten Up services over the next few weeks.
A busy January for Lighten Up
At Lighten Up, we can expect the first week of January to be fairly quiet, but as the month goes on we’ll get more and more referrals. (In 2014 we had 804 referrals in January, compared to 519 in February and 500 in March.)
We’re very pleased to say that for 2015 we are coming into the new year with a larger call centre team than we’ve had previously: up from six to ten. This is due to the overall high demand for the service, not just because it’s January – but it will really help during the busy period. It will also help us to increase the number of people on the evening shift, because a lot of our clients prefer to take calls in the evening.
We find that January is actually a good time for people to start a weight management programme. More people who started their classes in January last year completed their 12 weeks with the service, compared to those who started in later months. Last year, 64% of those who signed up in January completed the programme, compared to April where this had slipped a bit to 50%.
This year, an online element has been added to the service. Now, as a first step, clients are given the opportunity to explore information on a website, helping them to take steps and make small changes independently.
What happens in a Lighten Up support call?
So what sort of conversations will the Lighten Up team be having with people who are making a new start this January?
Jamie, a member of the call centre team, says: “There are basically two modes of speech when we’re talking to clients: congratulation and consolation. When someone has done well, we congratulate them, giving positive reinforcement to encourage them to continue, whilst making sure that their targets and expectations are realistic. Consolation comes when people have lower motivation, usually due to lack of progress. In this case, we’d try and help them to understand that it’s a setback rather than a failure – to put their performance into context and to implore them not to give up.”
Bob, another member of the team, says: “When speaking with new people I can usually tell from their voice whether they are really interested and really want to do it for themselves. For those that express doubts about joining, or who seem unsure, I explain the programme and the support available in more detail, and discuss the advantages. In some cases you can turn people around.”
The Lighten Up service isn’t just about weight management, it’s about achieving behaviour change – and the key to this is motivation. For a number of our clients who are a bit more isolated, the social contact that the phone service offers is really valuable too – it can spur them on.
We find that many people make more progress if they have someone to support them. We know lots of people get that encouragement from friends and family, but some don’t, so in some cases we have referred clients to a Gateway Befriender.
Then, of course, for those who require a more one-to-one or tailored approach, there are our Health Trainers.
Working towards success
If you’ve made a new year’s resolution this year, the NHS Live Well website has ten tips to make your new year’s resolution a success – and many of these reflect the way we work here at Gateway. Breaking your goal into a series of sub-goals, keeping a journal, and sharing your goals with others in order to receive support are just some of the ways in which Health Trainers and Lighten Up help people along the road to success with whatever lifestyle changes they’re making. If you’re working towards a goal of your own and think we might be able to help you out, speak to your GP about a referral.