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Lifestyle changes . . . Health coach Ellen McAtamney is loving her new role based at South Hill Medical, East Otago Health and Kurow Medical Centre. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Ellen McAtamney has always been passionate about health.

Now she gets to put her passion into practice, employed as Sport Waitaki’s new health coach, supporting people in the community be the best versions of themselves.

In her role, Miss McAtamney is part of WellSouth’s access and choice team, working alongside a health improvement practitioner and community support worker.

The 22-year-old is based at South Hill Medical, East Otago Health and the Kurow Medical Centre and is helping people with their lifestyle choices and chronic conditions, and assisting them to navigate the health system.

“It’s helping people to see what they want to change,” Miss McAtamney said.

She joined the team about two months ago after completing a week-long health coach course through Te Pou, a national centre of mental health research, information and workforce development. She also has a bachelor of science in anatomy from the University of Otago.

Miss McAtamney started taking clients last week.

She was working to build up a client base, and was touching base with people in the health system who had a smoking status.

“The bit that I’ve enjoyed so far is the people interaction.”

Clients could self-refer, or be referred through doctors and nurses. Her services are free.

Her role was non-clinical, so she could not diagnose people, but she could make referrals, she said.

Problem-solving was a large part of her role.

“It’s people knowing where to come if they are stuck with something, or if they just need that wee bit extra assistance.”

Growing up in Waitaki, Miss McAtamney was always involved in a healthy lifestyle, playing hockey and rugby, and her mother, Bridget, was a nurse.

“I’ve always been interested in the health world.

“Probably my real passion is adult confidence [and] by coming to me they’ll be more confident.

“It’s more about making it work for people.”

Through the role, she would work towards becoming a fully qualified health coach.