This week we delivered the first of our pre-diabetes training sessions.
The programme has been commissioned by Birmingham South Central Clinical Commissioning Group so the first session was held in one of their surgeries, Maypole surgery in south Birmingham, with the support and help of surgery GPs.
The surgery sent a mailshot out to patients with pre-diabetes, and we were pleased to find it had a good response rate, with 29 patients expressing interest. So a session was held for the first 12 on Wednesday morning, at the surgery.
Pre-diabetes, also referred to as “borderline” diabetes, is when someone’s blood glucose (sugar) levels are above the normal range, but not high enough for them to be diagnosed as having diabetes. If someone’s blood sugar levels are consistently higher than normal then they may be at risk of Type 2 diabetes if they don’t take the preventative steps. It’s an important warning sign that lifestyle changes need to be made. The point of the course is to educate people about their condition and to get people taking steps towards making those changes.
The course is run over 13 sessions and looks at all sorts of preventative action, including healthy eating, physical activity, food preparation, and managing portion sizes. For this first session, Trainer Susan Hannaby (pictured) was joined by Health Trainer Josh and EAST Admin Assistant Jennie, who will be the main point of communication for the group.
The activities and topics covered are based on who is in the group – what their needs are and the issues they would like to focus on – so it’s a flexible format. The sessions will include a lot of group work and include practical, hands-on activities, but also some private one-to-one time for each patient.
Susan gave an example of the practical activities they did on Wednesday: “This week we looked at portion sizes – we got people to serve a ‘typical’ plate of food, then looked at what a serving actually is. We were all surprised at how small cereal portions are!
“We are also encouraging the group to work together and help each other. For example one woman said she used to walk a lot but had lost confidence after falling over. One of the men in the group had been planning to start walking more, but felt unmotivated on his own. So they have made plans to go walking together.”
The sessions are intensive to start with, with weekly sessions for six weeks, followed by monthly sessions for seven months. But the sessions aren’t necessarily based at the surgery – if the patients want to do a taster session of a physical activity, like yoga or ‘extend’ training, or just to go for a walk, then it’s easy to incorporate that into the timetable.
Susan said, “it was a really good first session and the group were really engaged. Everyone set themselves a goal, whether that was cutting down on sugar in their tea, reducing their alcohol intake or doing a certain amount of walking each week. We’ve also started planning sessions for a second group at the Maypole.”
The Maypole sessions are in their infancy, but we are also looking to do similar sessions in other areas, both within GP practices and at community venues, where we hope to complement services already delivered in those venues.
Gateway’s programme is a pilot, but it’s part of the National NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, which is a joint initiative between NHS England, Public Health England (PHE) and Diabetes UK. The cost of Type 2 Diabetes in the UK is huge and the number of people with the disease is growing at a particularly high rate. The national programme aims to significantly reduce the five million people in England otherwise expected to have Type 2 Diabetes by 2025.
Pre-diabetes, and the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes, is something that we’ve had on our radar for a long time via our Health Trainer service, and we have been looking for a way to expand on this knowledge and formalise it for a while. We know through our other services that this kind of support – a personalised, intensive lifestyle change intervention – can work really well, so we’re very pleased to have the chance to make a difference, and we hope tow work with more GPs and patients in the near future.