So what exactly is the Lifestyle Medicine Centre?
The future for Chronic Disease prevention, management and reversal has arrived on the Central Coast at the Lifestyle Medicine Centre, a “health hub” that is the first of its kind in Australia!
In May of 2019, the doors officially opened at the Lifestyle Medicine Centre located in the Mingara Health precinct, Mingara Drive, Tumbi Umbi. This centre offers patients a new model of “Patient-Centred” care delivered by an inter-disciplinary professional medical team that collectively work to prevent and reverse Chronic Disease, such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart attacks, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, etc.
Not to be confused with alternative medicine, Lifestyle Medicine is the newest and fastest growing sub-specialty of Medical Practice and is accredited through the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine and the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine. This sub-specialty has an evidence-based approach to addressing the “cause of the cause”, in other words, it provides sustainable solutions both physically and mentally to assist with overweight/obesity and lifestyle factors that lead to reduced quality of life.
We all think of Fast Food, cake, chocolates and soft drinks as obvious determinants of weight gain, lack of energy and poorer health, yet these types of food are consumed in tons around the world daily.
Consider this: Why do we eat them in the first place? What are our triggers that lead to these irresistible habits and instant gratifications? Why do we succumb to them so easily? Why do we lack motivation to break habits that we know are not good for us?
We hear many patients say: “I know what I need to do, but just cannot get myself to do it”.
The underlying issues are complex and multi-factorial. Lifestyle Medicine practitioners are trained to identify barriers and facilitate lifestyle modification processes by addressing the Biological, Psychological and Social facets in totality – the only means for a long-term solution.
To help understand the role of Lifestyle Medicine, let’s look at an actual person Case Study.
“Mrs. Patient” is a single mum with two kids aged 10 and 12, who suffers from the stress of financial strain while she works 50 hours per-week without adequate support structures in place.
As a result of her circumstances, Mrs. Patient struggles to find motivation to exercise, often turns to Diet Coke and Redbull to see her through the day and also frequents the drive-thru for dinner as an easy solution for her and the kids.
Moreover, time in the mornings before school is limited so she often packs the kid’s lunchboxes with “packet” snacks, and gains some “me-time” in the evenings or on weekends by allowing the kids excessive screen time on TV and computers.
Ultimately, this time-poor lifestyle has led Mrs. Patient to being overweight and overwhelmed with depression, anxiety, fatigue and poor sleep. Unfortunately, she has also been diagnosed with poorly controlled Type 2 Diabetes and her blood pressure is higher than average. In addition, earlier this year her children were diagnosed with ASD and ADHD respectively and she now relies on funding through NDIS for their needs.
We all know a Mrs. Patient. In-fact I’m sure, as you read this, you can probably think of someone similar in your family or workplace. They might be the person who appears to be in a perpetual state of exhaustion, or frequently has days off work using their sick-leave.
Typically, this patient will present to their GP sporadically as their overwhelm peaks and they feel they are reaching breaking point. Their GP will assess and make adjustments to their medications, provide sick notes or stress leave and make several suggestions to improve their wellbeing. They may return for a few follow-up appointments and, given the complexities of their issues, may also be given referral letters to Specialists, a Psychologist, Dietitian or other Allied Health Provider.
The above case study scenario plays out thousands of times very day in GP practices across Australia. Although it provides good “management” of this person’s problems, it mostly and invariably may not address the underlying causes of their symptoms or identify their barriers to successful, sustainable treatment.
Our current medical system does not allow enough time in a primary care medical consultation to apply “wholistic” care, let alone make provision for sufficient Bio-Psycho-Social medical training of practitioners. Our medical system delivers care “time-based” rather than “value-based”.
Mrs. Patient is one of hundreds of thousands within our communities that suffers inside our chronic disease pandemic and experiences modern afflictions of:
· Stress / Overwhelm / Mental Health
· Low Motivation & Self-efficacy
· Lack of Support & Parenting Difficulties
· Low Self-Worth / Trauma / Body Image
The Lifestyle Medicine Centre aims to deliver health care differently, with our focus being “adding years to life and life to years”. It is a place that takes a new, innovative and results led approach to patient care. It puts the patient at the centre, empowers them to lead their own health pathway, and surrounds them with professional support through a multi-interdisciplinary team. We deliver “patient-centred” care.
Think of the “hub” in the wheel on a bicycle: At the Lifestyle Medicine Centre, the patient and their family are our “hub”, partnered with a Lifestyle Medicine GP. The “hub” is connected to our inter-disciplinary team, or our “spokes”.
The practitioners of this inter-disciplinary team consult within the Centre, have case-conference meetings face-to-face, collaborate and “coach” to provide all-round care for each individual patient. The team consists of Lifestyle Medicine trained/and or endorsed:
· Registered Nurse
· Exercise Physiologist
· Diabetic Educator
· Life Coach
· Dietitian / Nutritionist
· Occupational Therapists
On initial presentation to the Lifestyle Medicine Centre, either through a professional referral or by ringing directly for an appointment, Mrs. Patient would have a full Bio-Psycho-Social assessment done by the Lifestyle Medicine GP and registered nurse.
Based on her presentation, identified barriers and defined goals, our GP would get the “wheel” of lifestyle modification rolling by integrating the “spokes” required in Mrs. Patient’s care. Together, the team will assist and coach her in successfully reversing and/or preventing her chronic diseases and improving her quality of living.
The “wheel” of lifestyle change uses a combination of evidence-based models of medical care that include 1:1 consultations, shared medical appointments, rotating medical appointments and team case conferencing.
Our Centre is the first of it’s kind in Australia, as identified by the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine – and it’s right HERE on the Central Coast. It will not replace a patient’s GP and does not provide general medical practice care. It will work with and alongside the GP in a “health-coaching”, lifestyle modification capacity to deliver weight loss, chronic disease reversal and prevention.
The Lifestyle Medicine Centre welcomes self-referrals and professional referrals by GPs, Specialists and Allied Health Providers. It also offers workplace assessments and Lifestyle change programs to equip, empower and improve positivity and productivity in your staff.
To learn more about our Centre and how we may be able to help you or someone you know, head to www.lifestylemedcentre.com.au and follow us on Facebook as “Lifestyle Medicine Centre”.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article!
Dr. Michelle Reiss
GP and Lifestyle Medicine Physician
MBChB, LMCC, CCFP, FRACGP, FASLM