Type 1 Diabetes Family Weekender Scotland
A story by Diabetes UK Scotland
We delivered our Type 1 Weekender in Scotland improved the confidence and wellbeing of young people with type 1 diabetes, and their carers, through a programme of fun, educational activities. It enabled families to make friends, share experiences and learn how to live with more freedom from diabetes.
What Type 1 Diabetes Family Weekender Scotland did
With support from Better Breaks Funding, Diabetes UK Scotland delivered a Type 1 Diabetes Family Weekender Event in Glasgow in November 2019. At this short break, 40 young people and 34 carers attended a weekend-long residential programme of fun and informational activities.
To identify and choose beneficiaries, we publicised the short break event using our social media channels and website. Following this, we reviewed applications from families who had expressed an interest in the break. Equally, to ensure our project was a success we recruited and trained 32 inspirational volunteers from a range of backgrounds to help us run our event, including adults living with type 1 diabetes, carers and healthcare professionals.
The Type 1 Diabetes Family Weekender Event was delivered according to plan and was a huge success. Effective event coordination a particular success. As a result, we found that 100% of children enjoyed the weekend and 9 in 10 carers said they had the opportunity to enjoy time outside of their caring role.
Our project addressed the following Better Breaks priority areas, complex needs, our Short Break supported young people and carers affected by type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a complex, invisible and life-threatening condition that requires life-long insulin therapy. Sports our project took young people offsite for physical activities to give them a sense of achievement and help empower them to overcome barriers to participating in sporting activities.
Independence, our Weekender supported carers to give their child space to become independent and helped children to feel more comfortable managing their condition themselves. Transition to adulthood: Our project supported teenagers undergoing transition from pediatric to adult NHS diabetes care to let them know what to expect and how to get the most from their appointments.
What Diabetes UK Scotland has learned
Project planning and budgeting: We have learned that by engaging with local teams, we can gain richer insight and knowledge on what products and services are available in the local area. This ensures that the services meet the needs of our beneficiaries and we get good value for money.
Targeting families most in need of support: We have learned that by consulting with local healthcare professionals, we can best identify families who are more in need of support and would benefit from our project. By working in partnership with healthcare professionals and engaging with them as volunteers, we were able to tailor the programme to be in line with people’s needs.
Reaching out to and engaging with new families: We have learned that by working with local healthcare providers and diabetes clinics that we were able to reach out and engage families who are new to diabetes. By publicising our project through this means, we were able to support children and their carers who have been recently diagnosed with diabetes.
How Diabetes UK Scotland has benefitted from the funding
Develop new partnership(s) or links: Better Breaks funding allowed us develop new partnerships and links with healthcare professionals in Scotland. Our healthcare professional volunteers indicated they would wish to continue to support events in the future. In particular, we developed a new partnership with a psychotherapist. As emotional and psychological support services are not uniformly available across Scotland, carers told us that being able to access their support at the weekend was of tremendous value. Pilot a new service: For the first time, thanks to Better Breaks Funding, we were able to offer psychological support at our Type 1 Diabetes Family Weekender Event. One attendee said: “I particularly enjoyed the one [session] with the psychologist – helped me understand and how to rationalise my fears around my daughter’s diabetes.” Strengthen your organisation’s reputation: Better Breaks funding allowed us to provide a high-quality short break that strengthened our organisation’s reputation to those affected by diabetes in Scotland. It also strengthened our reputation with healthcare professionals who saw the benefits of what we can provide to carers and young people with type 1 diabetes. Build our volunteers skills, knowledge and capacity: This funding allowed us to increase the skills and capacity of our organisation’s volunteers in Scotland. During the project, volunteers developed their skills and shared their knowledge of the new technologies in diabetes. This meant that carers and young people got simple, clear explanations from individuals were confident using these new technologies. Our skilled volunteers empowered carers to feel better informed to make a judgement and support their child with diabetes technologies.
At least 90% of young people living with Type 1 diabetes will enjoy their time at our event, make friends and choose to participate in activities they may not have done previously.
This outcome was achieved in full. Our robust evaluation showed that 100% of young people had enjoyed the weekend. Similarly, nine in 10 children reported that they had made new friends and tried new activities.
Family A found the weekend both inspirational and emotional. The young person, for the first time, realised that they are not alone in living with diabetes and enjoyed taking part in activities with others. They told us that this led to them experiencing reduced feelings of isolation.
At least 90% of young people with Type 1 diabetes and their carers will report feeling like their wellbeing has improved, they are more informed and less isolated.
This outcome was largely achieved from both the perspectives of carers and young people living with type 1 diabetes. One carer commented that it was “A very emotional but supportive experience, and helped to build our confidence in diabetes, making us feel less isolated”. 100% of carers and their children reported that they enjoyed the event. Not a single carer reported that their child’s wellbeing hadn’t improved since attending the event. Eight in 10 carers reported their children’s wellbeing had improved and the remaining said it was too early to say. 85% of carers also agreed that their child felt less isolated as a result of the short break with 15% reporting it was too soon to say.
Family C told us during the event that they felt this experience was leading to a positive change in their lives. They were very happy with the support they had received. This event enabled them to go home feeling more confident that they could support their child to manage their diabetes. They particularly found that the short break supported them to cope with the emotional issues their children have. They all left the event with some fantastic memories and had met new people who they will stay in contact with as a family.
At least 90% of carers will feel more confident in their child’s ability to self-manage their condition, which will help them to feel better able to enjoy a life outside of their caring role.
This outcome was broadly achieved. Parents commented on how “helpful and supportive” the event was for them and their children. At the end of our project, 90% of carers said that they had an opportunity to enjoy time outside of their caring role. Six in 10 carers said that felt more confident with their child’s ability to self-manage after the Weekender event. Our carer said: “our son was given more confidence to deal with his diabetes and our daughter realised through the siblings [activities] that type 1 affects more families than ours.” A further 25% of carers understandably told us that it was too early to say whether their child’s self-management confidence had improved.
Carers from Family B told us that their daughter, living with type 1 diabetes, often experienced nervousness in new situations and found the initial get together at the weekend event daunting. Her carers asked for support from our Diabetes UK Scotland volunteers and staff who worked with their daughter and helped her to overcome her anxieties. After this, her carers said that their daughter with type 1 diabetes gained diabetes knowledge and self-management confidence. The young girl bonded so well with her team lead, that at the end of the event she had expressed a desire to be a volunteer herself when she is old enough.
At least 90% of carers will feel better supported in their caring role through the work of Diabetes UK Scotland.
When asked, 85% of carers agreed that they had more knowledge of the support services we provide for them. One carer said: “It was incredibly helpful to us as a family. We benefited from the volunteers and other families and felt much less alone and isolated by the end of the weekend.”
Carers from Family A told us that they felt that this weekend has helped to change the dynamics in their home, it made them better appreciate the situation as a carer and understand what their daughter goes though. They described this weekend as ‘life changing’ and they now feel better equipped to manage things calmly and confidently as a carer for a young person with type 1 diabetes.