Peer Support for Type 2 Diabetes is primary care and VCSE partnership, between The Peer Partnership* and Sirona Care & Health, providing one-to-one peer support for people living with type 2 diabetes (PLWT2D).
In 2018, Bristol Community Health commissioned The Peer Partnership (an extension of Bristowe, a Bristol-based not-for-profit organisation, supporting people with long-term conditions) to translate their existing HIV peer mentoring service into the design, development and delivery of a service for PLWT2D. The service would train up to 20 volunteer mentors living with type 2 diabetes to provide community-based peer support for up to 40 patients a year.
The project was largely reported as a positive experience for all involved and, what started as a one-year pilot commissioned by Bristol Community Health for PLWT2D in Bristol, has since been recommissioned by Sirona Care & Health and expanded to cover the whole Bristol North Somerset South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) footprint.
The Peer Partnership has since extended its relationship with Sirona Care & Health to implement group peer support services to people living with long Covid in February 2022, as well as actively discussing other conditions in which peer support could be a desirable intervention.
The project looks at ways of working with PLWT2D who have been advised by medical professionals on lifestyle changes, but who have real or perceived barriers in following this advice. The purpose of the project is to increase the knowledge, confidence, and ability of people to self-manage their condition in the community, with a helping start provided by mentors living with the condition themselves. The purpose for Bristol Community Health was to enhance the quality of life of patients and have a positive experience of care following diagnosis or periods of poor condition management.
The mentoring is designed to increase patient knowledge, confidence, and ability to self-manage, through the sharing of lived experiences, information and goal setting and reviewing. The mentors (Peer Support Mentor Volunteers) are trained by The Peer Partnership in mentoring, motivational interviewing, goal setting, action planning, boundaries, confidentiality and safeguarding. Once trained they are then matched with PLWT2D who feel they need support in managing their condition. Mentors and mentees meet on average once a week for an hour to discuss issues, share experiences, develop goals, and review actions related to their specific diabetes situation and the life circumstances around it. The peer interventions take place in cafes, community centres and other public spaces in the region.
During the pilot, the service was evaluated using Patient Activation Measures (PAMS) which, when increased, led to:
- reduced hospital admissions
- reduced medical errors
- better coordination between health care providers
- less negative health consequences due to miscommunication
- greater levels of confidence in health care provision
Impact was also measured anecdotally through the collection of participant case studies.
The primary outcome of the project was a significant increase in Patient Activation Measures (PAMS): initial baselines measured an average score of 2 out of 4. Following the intervention, this average score increased to 4 out of 4.
The feedback from mentees was exceptionally positive, even from those who were initially skeptical about its potential to help them: