Reciprocal Minds Ltd

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Reciprocal Minds Ltd is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Volunteer coach Andrew
Parsons of Reciprocal Minds
Limited with Anne Pike, Centre
Manager at The Fountain Centre
The Fountain Centre
There are two million people living in the UK with a cancer
diagnosis, and estimates suggest that there will be one
in four people of working age living with cancer in the
next ten to 15 years. It’s becoming a chronic condition with
significant psycho-social unmet needs – everyone is aware of the
physical harm it poses, but significantly fewer people recognise
the way it affects the individual’s mind; almost 250,000 people
are living with a mental health problem as a consequence.
DrAndrew Parsons of Reciprocal Minds has been educating
people about these issues since 2012, and is dedicated to
proving that coaching has use and value in healthcare. He
tells the
about his work and his collaboration with
TheFountain Centre at Royal Surrey County Hospital.
By sharing our experiences from the private sector with a local health charity, we
have created a novel approach to support for those living with and beyond cancer.
Our aim is to share our learning, and to outline the principles that have guided the
development of our volunteer coaching service.
The emerging context for coaching
Coaching is one tool that has been used successfully within the business world to
support individuals to develop and adapt. Coaching builds personal mental capital
and the confidence to deal with change. Despite the apparent success of coaching
in a work environment, there is limited evidence of its utility in a healthcare setting.
»Founder: Dr Andrew Parsons
»Centre Manager at The
Fountain Centre: Anne Pike
»Founded in 2012
»No. of employees: 3
»Services: Coaching and
counselling for the private and
public sectors
»The Fountain Centre was
founded in the mid-1990s
Reciprocal Minds Limited
Highlighting best practice
This may reflect the wide array of
coaching models, definitions and
processes which make up the coaching
Understanding its potential
There were two questions we needed
to answer before we began our service.
The first: can coaching be useful?
In the absence of trials, we required
a pragmatic measure of utility. We
agreed that this would be regular use
of the service by patients, and positive
feedback from healthcareprofessionals.
The second: how would we develop
a volunteer coaching service that
demonstrated diversity? We agreed
on the need to establish an active
service with a real wealth of coaching
experience. We came to these
conclusions and had them independently
evaluated by business professionals
and a charity supportingpatients.
The Fountain Centre
The Fountain Centre is an independent
cancer charity with a vision to provide
local information and support services
to anyone affected by a cancer
diagnosis. The Fountain Centre
has supported people in the local
community for over 20 years, with
many professionals donating their time
to support patients in managing and
dealing with their experience ofcancer.
It delivers:
»Over 10,000 registered service users
using outpatient and inpatient
»Over 600 “hands on” ward-based
treatments every year
»Over 6,000 complementary therapy
hours every year
»Over 620 counselling and coaching
referrals every year
The centre is actively involved with
patients receiving treatment and
currently provides both one-to-one and
group services. For the last five years, it
has been developing its coaching model
and recently evaluated theservice.
The model we developed and
The Fountain Centre coaching model
was developed initially by volunteers
who had experience of coaching
individuals in business who had chronic
health issues. In the development of
this voluntary service, there have been
two key considerations that embedded
it effectively within the context of
cancer care. These were a focus on
the individual and a values-based code
For the first, we recognised that
coaching is a person-centred process.
It provides the service user confidential
and “safe” time and space, along with
a professional who supports them to
develop new insights, options and
behaviours. With well over a thousand
sessions delivered, client feedback has
encouraged us to develop progress
measures, and the data we’ve
collected has encouraged further
independent research into precisely
why coachingworks.
As for the second, we know that
cultures based around a values-
based philosophy are able to reap
the benefits of both diversity and
consistency. This approach creates
multidimensional and multicultural
Some of the team –
Andrew, Aga Kehinde
of Coaching for
Empowerment, Anne
and Amanda White of
Confluence Coaching Ltd
mental capital
and the
confidence to
deal with
teams, which we found to be essential
components of the service. We have
also adopted a range of values-based
standards established by professional
bodies; the work of both the European
Mentoring and Coaching Council and
Association for Coaching provided a
framework for ethical perspectives and
professional competencies.
Time, trust and scalability
One of the biggest challenges I face is
the nature of this work. It’s voluntary – I
don’t get paid, and I’m also establishing
my own business in parallel. When
other business and life demands start
to pile up, my passion for the project
ensures that I continue to dedicate
time and energy to our patients.
When first beginning our operations, we
faced some barriers when delivering the
service – coaching is a very broad area
with a vast number of variations. Many
people don’t quite know what it is or
how it takes shape; so, working with
something so traditionally nebulous,
we found it particularly challenging to
get the trust of both the charity itself
and the professionals working in the
hospital. To break these barriers, we
maintained a strong physical presence
at the centre, worked consistently and
delivered quality in everything we did.
Understanding the scalability of our
operation is our current focus. Despite
wanting to get as many people on board
as possible, we know that we’re working
with people in a vulnerable space, and
their wellbeing must be an absolute
priority. We need to establish principles
that allow us a scalability of service
– and then we need to start thinking
about appropriate recognition and
accreditation. This certainly won’t be easy
– but we are ready for the challenge.
The next steps
In the next six months, we aim to
develop professional standards that will
enable us not only to scale our service,
but also to support an appreciation of
what coaching can offer in the context
of cancer care. To further develop The
Fountain Centre coaching service, we
will require larger-scale studies and
more funding to determine its utility
based on standard assessmentcriteria.
Coaching offers a different approach to
supporting the health and wellbeing of
cancer patients. This service has been
developed on the donation of time
and services from professional coaches,
and we firmly believe that further
development now requires funding if
we are to develop the evidence base
needed for long-termsupport.
now requires
funding if we
are to develop
the evidence
base needed
for long-term
A space for resting in
The Fountain Centre

This article was sponsored by Reciprocal Minds Ltd. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.