More than 1,000 people with type 2 diabetes are set to benefit from an innovative new EU-funded project involving health organisations from across the INTERREG 2 SEAS AREA. Called DWELL (Diabetes and WELLbeing), the cross-border initiative involves eight partners from the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, including EuroHealthNet partner organisation, The Health and Europe Centre from the UK. A 12 week patient support programme and accompanying training package for health care staff will be developed and implemented. The aim is to improve people’s long-term wellbeing and reduce costs by helping patients to self-manage their condition.
By Alice Chapman-Hatchett
Type 2 diabetes affects 28.8 million people across the EU and can be treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity. The DWELL programme will enable patients to access tailored support, empowering them to self-manage their condition and improve their well-being. The project will takes an individual holistic approach, identifying through one-to-one interviews what will motivate each person to make long-term lifestyle changes, rather than focusing solely on a person’s medical condition as is currently often the case.
The project was approved and funded by the EU Interreg 2 Seas Programme 2014-2020 (co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund) which awarded €1.9m to support the project over four years.
DWELL will co-create a 12-week patient support programme of ‘pick and mix’ options and a training package for staff to help them deliver the programme in the years ahead. Both products will be designed by, and implemented in, all four countries represented in the partnership, making them highly transferable to other countries also looking for solutions to this common issue. Through this project we want to try new ways of working to empower individuals to be in control of their condition. The programme will provide individuals and professionals with skills and tools to effectively manage diabetes and support people with diabetes to live life to its full.
As a result of improving patients’ long-term health and well-being, it is estimated that the project will see a 30% per person reduction to state funded health services per year (anticipated at €1.25m per 1000 patients per year).
DWELL’s first full year has seen partners focusing on the design and early piloting of a new programme to help Type 2 diabetics to manage their condition better, and put them in the driving seat when it comes to their care. They have all worked collaboratively across borders, as well as with their stakeholders and patients to produce the first draft of the programme, and the training to accompany it.
DWELL is a holistic programme, encouraging and motivating patients to make many small changes to their lifestyle – and over the summer, UK partners trialled it with some fantastic results. Patient lives have already been changed, with participants losing weight, and reducing blood pressure and the amount of insulin they need. Seeing patients speak first-hand about the impact the DWELL programme has made on them, and how much better they feel about themselves and managing their diabetes, is truly inspirational, showing the immediate value of the project.
Alongside this, partners have collaborated on tools to support patients during and after participation, and versions of an online tool are already being tested in all four languages. The cross-border value of the project is immense, as combining different areas of expertise has produced the programme, completing individual partners’ local expertise. Partners have seen issues in a different way, working with patients from different cultures – and this ensures the robustness of the DWELL programme. Over the next 3 years increasing numbers of patients will benefit from this programme as we roll it out more widely.
Alice is the Director of the Health and Europe Centre, a post she has held since since 2009. The Centre’s speciality is EU project development and support for the health and social care sectors in Kent and Medway, having a unique and profound understanding of how health and social care systems operate in Europe and how innovation can be transferred and implemented between countries. Alice has extensive European and public sector experience and focuses on promoting co-operation with health and social care experts in other EU countries to develop EU funded projects, explore evidence of good practice and create links for exchanges and shared learning. Under her leadership, the Centre has successfully bid for and is now managing EU funded health and social care projects worth in excess of €25m.