Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP)


NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme Includes ORCHA

Andy Jeans

Director of Delivery, ORCHA

There are currently 3.4 million people in England with Type 2 Diabetes and 200,000 new diagnoses made every year.  Unlike Type 1 Diabetes which cannot be prevented and is not linked to lifestyle, Type 2 Diabetes is largely preventable through lifestyle changes.  A lifelong condition, it leaves the body unable to absorb glucose, often causing complications including heart disease, stroke, limb loss and blindness.

To support its prevention, it is possible to spot if someone is at greater risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes; for example, if their blood sugar level is above the normal range.  This is where the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) then comes in.

Led by NHS England, Public Health England and Diabetes UK, Reed Momenta runs the NHS DPP in regions across the UK including West Lancashire.  ‘Healthier You’ is a 40-week support programme which helps people make changes to their life that can prevent Diabetes.  Once referred by their GP because they have high blood sugar levels, people are given a Health and Wellbeing Coach. They then go on a journey through 18 group sessions which cover nutrition, exercise and behaviour change, and lead to a healthier lifestyle and lower blood sugar levels.

Commissioned by West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, the ‘Healthier You’ programme has been established in West Lancashire, where more than 5,000 people are believed to have Diabetes; higher than the national average level.  To help overcome often life-long habits and embed new long-term behaviour change amongst participants, the team identified that health apps could strengthen the course.  Mindful that any change to the programme must be based on evidence, it partnered with ORCHA who, as experts in the field, would help the team identify and select apps that fitted the programme and were safe, clinically assured and easy to use.

Alongside advice and worksheets, participants are introduced to apps that will help them apply the recommended changes.  So now, during the session on being more active, they have fun comparing each other’s results on Accupedo Pedometer, a simple free app that counts your steps.  Or, after learning the importance of knowing their sugar intake, they are encouraged to use the Change4Life Food Scanner, to know exactly how much sugar is in what they buy from the supermarket.

The introduction of apps has been successful; uptake has been high, and coaches report that apps are helping to better embed practical changes into participants’ lives.  Later in the course, participants also increasingly reference information from an app rather than asking a coach, which is a good sign for self-management skills which are important for long-lasting results.  Participants get their blood sugar levels tested at the start, half way through and at the end of the course.  These measures show that the course is working and participants are preventing Diabetes.

Commenting on the introduction of apps, Rachel Gaskell, Health and Wellbeing Coach at Jon Scott, Health & Wellbeing Manager, Reed Momenta, adds to this: “The programme achieves results. Participants change their behaviours and across Lancashire lose on average 3.1kg, and in West Lancashire this figure is 5.4kg.  Adding ORCHA to the programme further empowers and informs participants, providing practical support and engaging personalised information. This helps to make changes stick and become part of everyday routine.”

Reed Momenta, said: “Participants who use apps as part of the course seem to understand and engage with the subject better. They also have a clearer picture of how they are performing against any goal.  For example, when we discuss the importance of keeping a food diary, those with the Calorie Counter app by Fat Secret, not only had amazing insight at their fingertips, but regularly monitored and adjusted their nutrition habits.”

Mike Maguire, Chief Officer of West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, continued “To tackle the escalation in Diabetes, people need to introduce lifestyle changes that are achievable and sustainable.  Adding ORCHA to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme helps us to better deliver this. By including engaging tools, that people can access when they need them, we’ve increased the programme’s ability to deliver long term behaviour change that will ultimately save lives.”

Diabetes rates in West Lancashire – 7%

The national average is 6.6 per cent.

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Read about the author, Andy Jeans (Head of Implementations), on LinkedIn