Online course helped individuals with type 1 diabetes through the pandemic

By Editor
11th August 2021
Education, Type 1 diabetes

More than 1,000 people with type 1 diabetes have completed a special remote version of a popular course that helps them manage their condition and avoid emergency hospital visits.

Those with type 1 diabetes are considered to be a particularly vulnerable group and would usually complete the course in a traditional face to face environment, but because of the pandemic the national programme was delivered in a new way.

Since June 2020 – when Covid19 prevented people from coming in – organisers have trained 90 new doctors and 429 educators to deliver the programme virtually.

Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating (DAFNE) is designed to help adults with type 1 diabetes lead as normal a life as possible, while also maintaining blood glucose levels within healthy targets to reduce the risk of any long-term complications.

The programme is mentioned in the national NICE guideline as an example of high-quality structured education for patients.

However, the national lockdowns meant face to face courses across the UK and Republic of Ireland were cancelled due to Covid-19 and a new remote version was designed to support people with type 1 diabetes.

DAFNE is currently offered in 94 specialist diabetes services across the UK and Republic of Ireland, with two overseas partners – Oz DAFNE (Australia, New Zealand and Singapore) and DAFNE Q8 (Kuwait).

More than 53,500 adults with type 1 diabetes have completed a DAFNE course since the programme was launched 21 years ago.

Northumbria Healthcare is one of 41 centres across the country piloting the new virtual course as the public adapts to social distancing rules and restrictions placed on large groups.

The DAFNE course is for adults (over 17 years old) with type 1 diabetes and is a comprehensive and often life-changing experience. It focuses on learning from experience, trying new things under supervision, and benefiting from the support of a peer group.

The programme has been proved to significantly reduce the risk of emergency hospital admissions and severe hypoglycaemia as well as lowering the overall cost of treatment for the NHS.

The new online course was developed so that adults with type 1 diabetes can still access the high quality, structured education process. It is facilitated by a specially trained educator over five weeks, to groups of up to 4 people, using a blended learning approach.

This includes:

  • online learning materials
  • independent study and activities (DAFNE participant workbook)
  • remote group activities which are facilitated by trained staff
  • peer support using a closed online group

Sally Woolgar, national DAFNE training lead said: “Participants can build their own support network using a closed social media group and support each other in between their remotely facilitated sessions.

“This enables them to reflect on their learning and bring their successes, queries and challenges for interactive discussion with their peer group and educator during the remotely facilitated sessions which use video meetings to support group interaction.”

She added: “This blended approach can help to avoid the typical pitfalls, such as feeling isolated or difficulty with motivation.”

The online version won the Diabetes Education and Self-Management award at the Diabetes UK conference and more than 95% of participants said they would recommend DAFNE’s remote training to other people with the condition.

Gillian Thompson, National Director of the DAFNE Programme said: “It has been truly humbling to hear the feedback from both the people with type 1 diabetes that have completed the course and the DAFNE educators themselves who have delivered it across the UK and Republic of Ireland. I couldn’t be prouder.

“The Remote programme really offers a new way to deliver high quality, structured education that is very highly rated by people with type 1 diabetes.”

She added: “While we are based at Northumbria Healthcare in the North East of England we offer the course right across the country and I know that clinical teams and patients have been impressed not just with the new way of working but also the speed at which we were able to introduce it.”

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

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