AKF’s Kidney Health Coach Program celebrates a successful first year
In early 2018, the American Kidney Fund (AKF) launched a free health education program built around a nationwide network of people who want to help prevent kidney disease in their communities.
We called the program “Kidney Health Coach” because coaching is an empowering concept—a coach has knowledge to share that helps those who are coached to improve on the journey to be their very best.
Community health and peer health education programs can play an important role in raising awareness about a disease and encouraging behavior change in communities at risk. We envisioned our Kidney Health Coaches spreading awareness about the common yet preventable risk factors of kidney disease including diabetes and high blood pressure, and encouraging people in their communities to live healthier lifestyles that can help prevent kidney disease.
What a year it’s been! We certified nearly 1,000 individuals as Kidney Health Coaches and they educated more than 2,000 people about kidney disease in dozens of communities in 14 states and three countries!
Our Coaches exceeded our expectations by actively pursuing meaningful opportunities to expand their reach. They incorporated the program into a diabetes education curriculum, partnered with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to connect prevention education to kidney donation and transplant, and delivered a Kidney Health Coach education session on public access television.
The Coaches span not only the continental United States, but they also host education sessions in Puerto Rico, Kenya and Nigeria. In fact, AKF has more than 80 Kidney Health Coaches in Puerto Rico, which ranks among the top 10 U.S. states and territories with the highest rates of kidney disease.
We asked our first-year Kidney Health Coaches what they thought of the program and how we could improve it. They gave a lot of positive feedback and said they felt well prepared to teach education sessions:
- “I think the program is great.” Beth L., elementary school teacher
- “People were thankful for the information.” Tracey G., registered dietitian
- “Kidney Health Coach is easy for an audience to comprehend.” Debra W., physician
- “Kidney Health Coach is very informative and easy to learn.” Kathleen O., non-health-related professional
- “I absolutely love the handouts!” Nena B., patient educator
As we begin the second year of the program, we plan to develop even more resources for our Coaches, including a “getting started guide” designed for new coaches and new lesson plans. We’ll also be forging new partnerships with like-minded individuals and organizations that are also working to reach populations at risk for kidney disease and its risk factors. Building on the momentum year one of Kidney Health Coach, we aim to double the total number of people educated by our Coaches to 4,000 by the start of 2020.
Anyone can become a Kidney Health Coach by taking the online Kidney Health Coach training course for free. Upon successful completion, each coach receives a printable certificate and access to the Kidney Health Coach Portal where they can download the presentation, presentation notes and fact sheet handouts, and log their coaching sessions to receive incentives such as stickers, lapel pin and t-shirt.
If Kidney Health Coach sounds interesting to you or your organization, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Kidney Health Coach or take the free, online course, visit our website, kidneyfund.org.
Urooj Fatima is the Public Education Coordinator at the American Kidney Fund.