Pennsylvania success stories

PA Local Success Stories
Quality improvement endeavors can often feel overwhelming, but chances are, you can learn from the experiences that another physician, hospital or nursing home has had in a similar situation. Coupled with support from Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network, learning what has worked for others — and what didn't — is a valuable strategic planning component. 

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Diabetes Classes Inspire Support Group and Walking Club

2/4/2019
EDC Logo Picture 3When instructor Angie Alwood taught a series of Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) classes at the West Shore Senior Center, she hoped to leave a lasting impact on the class participants. Little did she know, she’d meet that goal and then some. EDC in Pennsylvania uses the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP) curriculum created by the University of Illinois at Chicago.
 
senior center photoDEEP teaches people with diabetes and/or their caregivers the skills they need to be in control of their health. Consisting of six weekly classes, participants learn about diabetes risks, nutrition, weight management, how to properly manage medications and much more. Based on group interaction and working together, the classes empower and inspire the participants to feel confident about their health and themselves.

On the last day of classes at the Cumberland County senior center, two of the participants asked to share information with their classmates. When given the floor, Sally Branca announced that the senior center was starting a support group, named Sweet Talk. The group would be open to anyone interested in sharing experiences and continuing to learn how to live with diabetes, as well as those trying to prevent diabetes.

Sally was not pre-diabetic or diabetic when she started taking the EDC classes. She participated to learn more about the disease. After a few sessions, she asked her physician to order an A1C test, which measures the glucose (blood sugar) in one’s blood to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

When the results indicated she had pre-diabetes, Sally felt overwhelmed with the diagnosis and had many questions. Her EDC classmates offered support and shared how they manage their condition.

Thankful for the classes and camaraderie, Sally was eager to continue the learning process. She approached Maureen Roth, the senior center director, with the suggestion of forming an ongoing support group. Maureen, whose grandmother has had diabetes for more than 30 years, thought it was a great idea. Since Sweet Talk’s debut, Maureen has contacted several agencies and healthcare providers to request guest speakers on nutrition, eye health, skincare, foot care and so much more. The Sweet Talk Support Group meets the first and third Tuesday of each month at the senior center.

In addition to the support group announcement on the last day of EDC classes, participant Edwin “Eddie” Beckford shared that he was starting a Walking Club to help motivate others to increase their physical activity.

Eddie, who is a Vietnam Veteran, has had diabetes for about ten years. When his A1C reading reached a high of 13.5, he decided to get serious about lowering it to a healthy level. He joined a Food Addict Program, eliminating white flour and sugars from his diet, and started walking 10,000 steps a day.

Recently, Eddie participated in a walk for Victims of Heroin Overdose and marched in the Philadelphia and New York City Veterans Day parades. He also remains active in health programs through the Veterans Association.

As a result of his efforts, Eddie’s A1C dropped to 5.6 and he no longer takes any diabetes medications. He signed up for the EDC diabetes workshop in order to learn more about managing his diabetes. And, though he had been attending the senior center once a week, he really connected with participants through the classes and realized that they can experience things as a group instead of individually.

That was his motivation in creating the Walking Club – working together to motivate and educate each other on moving more to be healthier. In addition, he has become an advocate for healthier food choices for the senior lunch program as well as more transparency of the nutritional content of the meals served.

Additionally, Eddie served as a guest speaker on a recent Quality Insights webinar. During The Sweet Spot of Patient Engagement: Creating Healthcare Partnerships that Actually Work, he shared the importance of building relationships by motivating and educating others on living a healthy life.