Make Your Move was a £2.14m Sport England Lottery funded grant programme for Sporta member trusts. The programme invested in projects designed to recruit inactive people (doing less than one session of 30 minutes per week) within local communities and help them to continue being active for at least 30 minutes once a week or more.
Leisureworks responded to the opportunity to build on existing experience and develop a successful funding application to deliver their ‘Love Your Life County Durham’ (LYLCD) project. This information is based on a detailed review and case study of the project produced by Cavil Associates Ltd and Progress Health Partnerships Ltd on behalf of Sporta and Leisureworks.
The findings from the County Durham Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and subsequent local public health profile 2016, highlights that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in County Durham is increasing and is significantly higher (6.7%) than the England Average (6.4%). This data provided unmistakable evidence for the need for an intervention project.
The LYLCD project, targets inactive adults identified as being at risk of developing type-2 diabetes across County Durham. LYLCD offers a 12-week programme of sport and physical activity and access to DESMOND’s ‘Walking Away from Diabetes’ (WAFD) module in leisure centres and community venues.
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Participants were referred via their GP, direct marketing and the use of social media. In total 60% of people were referred to the programme by a health professional,with a further 22% recruited via a friend/family.
Participants are encouraged to attend the WAFD workshop to fully understand the condition and be informed of the lifestyle changes they could make to reduce their risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Physical Activity and health data was recorded for each participant at the start and at a 6 month follow up to determine the difference being active had made to them.
There was a significant focus on delivering the project outside of the leisure centre environment, utilising Primary Care for the delivery of the ‘Walking Away from Diabetes’ workshops and other community venues rather than focusing on bringing the public into the leisure centre.
“Somebody who’s never been in a leisure centre before may have a negative perception and may feel intimidated by the thought of accessing a facility full of fit and healthy people. So, we try to either programme sessions in community venues where this perception doesn’t exist, or we programme sessions in the centres at a quiet time. People are more comfortable with this.” (Leisureworks, Lifestyle Manager)
A range of activities were provided, based on need, and included: yoga, healthy circuits, aerobic activities, aquatics, multi-sports sessions and no strings badminton.
Outcomes and Impact
591 participants undertaking 8,000 physical activity sessions, 72% higher than projected, of whom:
- 27% were inactive (0 x 30 minutes per day)
- 60% took part in no sport
- 24% were active on 5 or more days
- 21% rated their health negatively
- 37% rated their health positively
- 13% had been inactive at the start, this was reduced to 2%
- 15% had been active on 5 or more days a week, increased to 21%
- Overall activity levels increased by 56%
- 7% rated their health negatively
- 60% rated their health positively
The project received many positive endorsements:
“I’ve been with 40-odd people on this programme and they would all say this, ‘if we didn’t have this to come to and we weren’t doing these exercises we’d be different people, more pain, the doctors would be seeing us more, more painkillers, we wouldn’t get out, we wouldn’t socialise so mentally and physically, brilliant!” (Participant)
“A mother and daughter joined the programme together, referred as pre-diabetic; together they lost an astonishing 4 stone each. They have both increased their physical activity participation, going from inactive to participating in at least 120 minutes per week in aqua based activity. The mobility of one has also improved, she is now not totally dependent on her wheelchair and has progressed from using 2 sticks to 1 stick and now no sticks when at home.” (Instructor)
- The success of the programme has been built on strong partnerships, trained and highly motivated staff and the flexibility to continually adapt the programme based on action learning.
- The programme was proactive in developing individual case studies to highlight successes within the programme. This was done consistently throughout rather than on completion, leading to greater partner buy-in and enhanced recruitment of participants. The impact the project has on one participant can be seen in the following Participant Case Study
- Utilising primary care and the voluntary sector – recruitment and retention of participants was clearly strengthened by working closely with Primary Care and delivering sessions within local community facilities.
- Embracing the social and emotional aspects of activity: often programmes like this are evaluated and success measured by physical health improvements, such as weight-loss or reduced blood pressure. It is easy not to appreciate the positive mental health gains of increasing physical activity and it is clear from participants that these have a far greater value and are certainly a far stronger motivator in sustaining activity.
- Having a strong team of trained instructors is critical and unlike instructors working with active participants it is critical that the instructors have complementary skills in understanding heath, motivation, behaviour change and empathy with clients.
Short term funding is a constant challenge in developing individual lifestyle based programmes. Programmes often are striving to demonstrate longer-term outcomes, which cannot be realistically achieved within the funding time frame. It is clear that where external funding is not in place there is a need to ensure sessions are self-financing to enable sustainability.
“We have to be realistic and acknowledge that there are costs associated with programming. It is important that we cover our costs and are fair with our admission charges. We would expect to pay about £35.00 for a 1 hour session (facility hire and wages) and would need this back in income to cover costs.”
This is a significant barrier for people on the lowest income, the very people that need this programme the most.
Sustaining the project
An enhanced and fully coordinated county-wide physical activity programme targeting older adults has been developed with our wider partners and serves as an excellent exit route for people we advise to continue exercising.
As it says within the LYLCD case study, approximately 10 activities have been sustained within our community physical activity programme. We have also created a sign-posting function which is linked to the existing referral pathway and we continue to receive referrals.
Furthermore, after LYLCD programme ended, we were invited to be a local delivery partner in the NHS National Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP), Living Well Taking Control.