Anglo-Australian diabetes collaboration celebrates milestone

By Editor
28th April 2022
Education, Type 2 diabetes

A type 2 diabetes education programme developed in Leicester and exported to Australia is celebrating 10 years of providing “vital education and information” to thousands of people across Australasia. 

DESMOND is a world-class range of group-based and digital programmes to support self-management for people who are at risk of developing or diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Thanks to the roll out in Australia, last year, 3,800 people attended face-to-face DESMOND meetings, while 4,440 completed online education, with the pandemic leading to lower than normal attendances.

It was created in 2003 by leading researchers from across the UK and rolled out three years later by the Leicester Diabetes Centre (LDC), based at the Leicester General Hospital, following a successful clinical trial, which demonstrated its effectiveness.

In 2011, Diabetes Western Australia (WA) introduced the programme Down Under after striking up a partnership with the team from LDC. A series of changes were made to adapt and ensure the programme was culturally relevant. And this work continues including the introduction of Diabetes Education and Self-Management Yarning (DESY) workshops for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the region.

The partnership continues to go from strength-to-strength and the digital version of the programme MyDESMOND has been adopted as the digital programme of choice of people with type 2 diabetes across Australia.

To further cement the relationship there was a high-profile visit in February 2019 when a delegation from the Australian Education and Health Standing Committee visited Leicester Diabetes Centre.

Bernie Stribling, the Assistant Director of International and External Business Development at LDC, led the successful implementation and adaptation. “We visited Western Australia for 10 days and trained the trainers to deliver the UK version of our programme for those with type 2 diabetes. Following this, we held question and answer sessions to find out what elements required adapting to ensure everything was culturally relevant. It is great to see the relationship grow and grow.”

Sophie McHough, General Manager – Growth & Innovation at Diabetes WA, said: “A decade on from when Diabetes WA bought the DESMOND programme to Australia, diabetes consumers and their health professionals have recognised the true value of structured diabetes self-management education, with access to both DESMOND and MyDESMOND currently funded by the National Diabetes Services Scheme.

“I’ve been involved in diabetes education for over 20 years and I’ve never seen a training programme succeed the way DESMOND has done in Australia.”

James Bell, who had type 2 diabetes and lives in Australia, said: “DESMOND was great for me, I learned all kinds of things that I didn’t know about. I learned about different levels of blood sugar and what they mean and I learned a huge amount about cholesterol which I knew almost nothing about. I learned more about diet, I feel like I am really on track, I didn’t know I was doing as well as I am.”

Commenting on the programme, Dr Gerry Fegan, an Endocrinologist working in WA, added: “For those that engaged with it, they found it really empowering. It gave them a lot of information they could take back to their normal lives and make their different food choices and exercise choices and it was really good for them.”

Dr Andrew Leech, a WA General Practitioner, added: “It’s quite a friendly, relaxed environment and very easy-going, they select small groups at a time.”

The LDC is an international centre of excellence in diabetes research, education and innovation and is led by Co-Directors Professor Melanie Davies CBE and Professor Kamlesh Khunti CBE. Hosted at Leicester General Hospital, the centre is a partnership between the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and the University of Leicester.

Professor Davies CBE, a Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “We are proud of DESMOND, of what it has achieved in the UK and in Australia, providing vital education and information based on robust evidence to people with, or at risk of, type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a global challenge and, as proved by this partnership with Diabetes WA, it is relevant to people around the world.”

Professor Khunti CBE, Professor of Primary Care Diabetes & Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, added: “DESMOND has been a success because people with type 2 diabetes have a demanding condition to manage, yet on average they only see a healthcare professional for an hour a year. They need information that they can trust. Evidence-based structured education programmes such as DESMOND and the digital version MyDESMOND are a proven method to enable supported self-care in diabetes.”

For more information on DESMOND, visit: www.desmond.nhs.uk.

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