Whose diabetes is it?

There is a rich history of using design and particularly participatory design across a range of sectors. UCHD is researching the effectiveness of such methods in healthcare. This project deliberately set out to investigate type 1 diabetes from the perspective of the young person, and to work collaboratively to design a service that kept the young person at the heart of the experience.

We used a range of methods: some innovative to design and many innovative to traditional service improvement. We plundered popular culture finding success in using formats where young people knew how to behave and what was expected of them. These were not only fun and engaging but delivered valuable design insights that helped UCHD, the young people, Rotherham Paediatric diabetes service and our other partners develop an innovative service proposal.

“Again it was surprising the different ideas that came out.  I mean the younger ones had a lot more ideas than us.  Some of the things that they were coming out with were quite enlightening; it shows they are taking interest in their life if you like.  Probably more than we realise as parents.” (parent)

A workshop framed around TV programme “The X Factor” was used to help the young people prioritise ideas.  Winners were announced using iconic “award show” props (gold and silver envelopes etc.). This made the activity both understandable and enjoyable for everyone.

In a subsequent workshop, young people and their families prepared to present their service innovations to a “Dragon’s Den” to four Dragons with relevant experience of where the ideas might be used: NHS Senior Manager Mark Cobb; Design and Technology Teacher Russell Fisher; Senior Diabetes Consultant Simon Heller; and Boots Superstore Manager James Stout.

Eventually each Dragon chose to “invest” in one group and spent time with them exploring the best features of their ideas, and identifying practical hurdles and possible improvements based on their experience.

In general the Dragons were very positive about the ideas and surprised about their innovativeness. The young people and parents were also encouraged by presenting their ideas to external experts and by hearing their helpful comments and suggestions.

“Yeah it was quite fun, new experiences, it got people talking more and got us working in teams. It gave us the chance to speak to other young people about how they feel about diabetes and how they can change it.” (young person)

The proposed service streamlines all that is positive about the existing provision into one brand and information resource ”Whose Diabetes is it?” that brings in expertise from both inside and outside the NHS, in the form of peer support groups and clinical staff. This information is delivered via means that better fit young people’s lifestyles such as text messaging, websites and in person.  Finally it allows for young people and families to receive reassurance from others who know “what it’s like”.

This is a video we created with young people with type 1 Diabetes about what a new service might look like. We are sharing it to get feedback from other people who know what it is like to live with type 1 Diabetes in the UK.