Type 2 diabetes support for 150,000 Mancunians

Changing Health’s behaviour change programme is now available to provide 150,000 people living in Greater Manchester Type 2 diabetes support, as part of a suite of digital resources to help them better manage their condition and live healthier lives.

The NHS England and Innovate UK funded initiative makes diabetes support available from a range of providers any time, anywhere via a one-stop shop web platform, Greater Manchester Diabetes My Way. Users will benefit from digital education on lifestyle and personalised, one-to-one behaviour coaching, delivered by Changing Health, alongside tools for easier sharing of glucose monitoring data and care records with healthcare professionals.

The Idea Behind Changing Health’s Type 2 Diabetes Support Programme

The scheme was launched with the aim of giving people with diabetes all the skills and knowledge they need to play a more active role in managing their condition, by adopting positive diet and exercise habits and learning how to maintain lifestyle changes over the long term.

Type 2 diabetes support in Greater Manchester has in the past been limited to classroom education programmes, which are often inaccessible for those unable to travel or take time off work, or who have learning difficulties. Digital tools overcome these challenges, and in some cases, have been shown to improve uptake of diabetes support by more than 500%.

In addition to improving the support on offer for people with diabetes, the initiative is also likely to deliver significant cost savings for healthcare delivery in Greater Manchester, with fewer complications arising from the condition, fewer hospitalisations and fewer A&E attendances.

Here’s what the experts have to say

John Grumitt, Changing Health Chief Executive, said: “It’s great to be selected as one of the Greater Manchester Diabetes My Way providers and build on the evidence that with access to the right support, people with diabetes can make big changes in their lives and manage their condition more effectively.

“Health Secretary Matt Hancock shared his vision last week of delivering more patient-centric care, facilitated by digital tools. Greater Manchester Diabetes My Way will play a key role in making that vision a reality.

“We know that a large proportion of people with Type 2 diabetes want to make a change in their lives – but often, they simply aren’t sure how best to go about it. This initiative aims to change that.

“Where previous behavioural interventions faced some major practical and financial challenges, today’s launch is a win-win: people with diabetes are empowered to sustain long-term lifestyle changes, while healthcare providers benefit from better communication with their patients, better health outcomes and a lesser administrative burden.”

Naresh Kanumilli, SCN Clinical Lead for Diabetes, said: “This has the potential to be a real game-changer in Greater Manchester. With a large and growing Type 2 diabetes population, we need to adapt to the modern world and harness the power of new digital technology to embrace changes in how we support people living with diabetes.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • Wave 2 of the Innovate UK Test Bed funding programme has agreed a grant of £975,000 towards the £1.2m project cost, with the remainder contributed by the industry partners involved.
  • John Grumitt, Changing Health CEO, is available for interview
  • Case studies of people who have achieved diabetes remission using digital tools are available.

Type 2 Diabetes Reversal | How Did She Do It?

Meet Sheinaz. She’s a GP Practice Manager in Gateshead, Newcastle, and she was largely sceptical of the power of digital interventions to help people Type 2 diabetes change their lifestyle and better manage their condition. Until she tried one out for herself.

On 13 January 2018, Sheinaz was diagnosed with diabetes. Her GP told her that her HbA1c level, an indicator of blood glucose control, was at 52. That meant her condition was under control – but only just. It was enough to motivate Sheinaz to begin making some big lifestyle changes, and when her GP offered to refer onto the Changing Health programme to help her do so, she accepted – albeit with some reservations about whether it would be of much use.

Changing Health Programme

The programme comprises a course of digital education on diabetes to improve participants’ understanding of how diet impacts on their condition, combined with one-to-one lifestyle change coaching from an expert in health psychology and behavioural science.

“I was devastated to hear the diagnosis, absolutely devastated” she says. “I just thought, ‘I have a healthy diet, I do all the things I could possibly do, what more can I do?’ Going to a group session wasn’t really sustainable for me, and the other option was having a health app.

“When you’re being monitored by your GP practice you’re only seen once a quarter, so I thought having the app available will help me to maintain that consciousness of the long term condition I have, and it’s an alternative that actually works better than seeing your GP”

As Sheinaz worked her way through the programme, her preconceptions of digital health apps changed entirely. She was moving more. She had more energy. With a few pointers from her lifestyle coach on the best changes to fit her own circumstances, soon she was cooking tasty, healthy meals every day, building positive habits into her daily routine rather than treating weight loss as a chore. “I increased my physical activity on a daily basis using the app, and having my own personal health coach really helped too.”

It was a complete change of mindset for Sheinaz – and it paid off. In just ten weeks she had lost 18lb, or a little over 8kg. Then came more good news.

It Really Happened: Type 2 Diabetes Reversal

“I spoke to my GP on the phone. He said ‘you don’t have diabetes’ – I said ‘yes I do, I was diagnosed ten weeks ago!’ – and he said ‘well your blood sugars are normal; you’ve reversed your diabetes.’”

Sheinaz was ecstactic. And six months on from the original diagnosis, she’s living a whole new life. “In myself I feel better, my memory’s much better… I’m sleeping really really well, bouncing with energy, and bouncing with confidence. I love the diet and I’ve got so much energy as a result, and I’m still losing up to half a pound per week but I never feel like I’m on a diet.

The Changing Health programme was designed to empower users not only to adopt healthier habits, but crucially, to keep them up – for good. That looks promising for Sheinaz. As of mid-July, she’s now lost a total of 24lb and dropped two dress sizes.

“I can still use the app and the coaching sessions for another six months, but I don’t really need them; it’s become a habit now. I’m being creative about cooking, and I’m eating less carbs, but you know what? I don’t miss them at all.”

Lifestyle coach Carl on preventing diabetes, changing lives

I became a lifestyle coach to make a difference in people’s lives. The way the Changing Health programme works, assigning each user a personal coach and delivering ongoing one-to-one support over weeks and months, gives me the opportunity to do that. We can explore every client’s needs and tailor-make our behaviour change programme to suit them.

Many of the people we coach have already digested learning content on Type 2 diabetes and how to better manage the condition. However, they’re rarely equipped to put that knowledge into practice. That’s where we come in!

Changing Health user Pat, aged 71 and one of my clients, can vouch for this. She described her experience as “life-changing”.

For years, she struggled to keep her weight under control. She tried lots of approaches, like WeightWatchers and Slimming World. The problem she faced was not losing the weight; it was keeping it off once her initial diet phase was over. It’s something we see often, and the reason we only promote lifestyle changes that are sustainable over the long term.

Before she reached out to Changing Health for help, Pat was diagnosed as prediabetic after an annual check-up at her local GP surgery. She booked her first coaching appointment with me in January 2018.

We agreed on limiting her daily calorie intake to 1,200-1,600, and I asked Pat to write this goal down, and leave it on show around the house somewhere – since research shows this makes you 42% more likely to achieve success! She adopted the low-carb approach, replacing some of her carbs with vegetables and healthy fats and proteins, which keep her fuller for longer.

One of the most effective behaviour change techniques I’ve used with Pat has proved to be self-monitoring. I asked her to use the photo food diary in the Changing Health app, which I can then review. She told me it makes a big difference; not only can she keep a tab on her diet, but she knows I can see her meals, so she tries harder to keep up the good work. She finds the app’s weight tracker and step-counter helpful too, keeping her disciplined and focussed on her goals.

She loves baking, but as we know, this isn’t the healthiest hobby if it’s not enjoyed in moderation. So we agreed that a good way to overcome this and still continue with this hobby was to either halve the ingredients used or bake twice as much with her usual amounts. Perfect!

Three months on, she’s living her new, healthier lifestyle to the fullest. She’s more motivated than ever; since she’s lost weight, she’s feeling the cold more when she goes for a walk. But that’s not an excuse stay in; instead, she went out and bought a good pair of thermal socks and gloves!

Her blood sugar levels speak for themselves. Since beginning the Changing Health programme, Pat’s blood sugar has decreased by 14%, which means it has returned to healthy a level and she’s no longer on her way to Type 2 diabetes. She’s also lost 3.6 kgs, reaching her target weight, and crucially – is managing to maintain it. She’s reduced her BMI too: from 28 to 26, meaning she’s no longer classed as overweight.

She credited her success to having a lifestyle coach on hand for support. As she put it: “The fact that my lifestyle coach is keeping track of my meals and exercise on the Changing Health App is very encouraging and positive.’’

The lesson I’ve learnt from Pat, and many other of my former clients, is this: You’ve always got it in you to make a change for the better. You may just need a little help.

Find out how GP Practice Manager, Sheinaz, also managed to turn her life around with help from one of the Changing Health’s lifestyle coaches.