SEREN is a national diabetes education programme for children and young people (CYP) developed by healthcare professionals and parent representatives from Wales. The first modules are delivered over the 6-8 weeks following diagnosis and aim to improve CYP’s knowledge and understanding of diabetes, empowering them to manage their diabetes from day one. The programme includes a full curriculum with lesson plans for staff, a workbook for the young person, educator records to track progress and an array of supporting teaching resources.
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The SEREN project began in January 2012 when healthcare professionals from various disciplines and parent representatives across Wales set up a working party to improve the quality of structured education for children and young people living with diabetes. The group gathered all the paediatric diabetes resources that were used throughout Wales to inform the content of the educational programme and began by focusing on developing a core module around the education that children, young people and families receive at the time of their diagnosis. The group recognised the importance of developing materials related to the educational level of the child and decided to develop workbooks for three age ranges. They started with key stage 3 and 4, which could then be refined and simplified to suit the educational needs of younger children. Many group members contributed to the project in their own time, outside their regular normal hours. It took four years to finalise the work on the key stage 3 and 4 module which was finally implemented under the name SEREN in every health board across Wales in February 2016. Building on this, the SEREN working group successfully piloted and launched the two age-appropriate SEREN modules for key stage 2 and key stage 1 in the space of one year. On reflection, this stepped approach has also enabled staff delivering SEREN to adapt to a change of practice and become familiar and confident in using the different resources, before learning a new module.
While it is still relatively early to evaluate the long term impact SEREN will have on the health outcomes of the children and young people, the SEREN group are using an evaluation questionnaire to look at the short-term outcomes, for example how confident families feel about managing their child’s health over the next few months. Six out of the seven families who have responded so far reported feeling “somewhat confident at managing their child’s health over the next few months”, with one family rating themselves as “very confident at managing their child’s health over the next few months”. The feedback has also shown the value of the education in normalising the experiences of the families and helping them to understand more about their condition.
Sustainability and Spread
While there is a cost to purchase the workbooks and teaching materials, SEREN is flexible and can be adapted to different clinical and community settings. In practice, SEREN should not require additional staffing resources, as members of the paediatric MDT already spend considerable time working with CYP, especially at diagnosis. The programme has been presented to the Children and Young People’s Regional Networks across England and at ISPAD & BSPED. SEREN complements other programmes such as Novo Goals for Diabetes, by offering a process through which information can be given in an age-appropriate way. Other educational projects could learn from the SEREN approach of structuring information to suit the educational needs of the child and doing so in a way that material can be used that will fit the needs of the child, without ages being published on the resources. The outcomes and objectives included in the SEREN workbooks enable educators to be clear about the purpose of the education and also helps educators to assess how well CYP and families understand the information they are given. Other programmes would also benefit from taking a systemic view of education and look at enhancing the knowledge and understanding of the whole family, involving both the family and the child within sessions.
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