Being told that your young child has type 1 diabetes is life-changing.
Not only will they be insulin-dependent but the whole family will have to learn about daily injections, changes to diet, measuring glucose levels, exercise and the general self-management needed to enjoy a healthy life.
It’s a lot to take in.
So the Design Unit at De Montfort University (DMU) was approached by the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, in partnership with the Children and Young People with Diabetes East Midlands Network, to create a phone and tablet learning app that would be able to teach young children about managing their condition through play.
The result of close work between DMU’s Lee Paxman-Clarke and David Terris, Consultant Endocrinologist Dr James Greening and Children’s Diabetes Support Worker Sarah Lockwood-Lee is DeApp – the Diabetes Education Application – pronounced ‘deep’, which is the first online education programme in the UK for children newly diagnosed with the condition.
The app is now being used by hospitals across the region – from Northampton to Chesterfield - and a Polish language version is being produced.
There are also conversations happening in other parts of the globe, including America, to roll the app out worldwide.
Using illustrations, cartoons, videos, games and multiple-choice quizzes, with characters from the deep sea, children, their families and teachers can take in all the information in their own time in easily digestible chunks.
The children then have face-to-face meetings with hospital diabetes staff to back up and support the learning process as well as give hands-on demonstrations of the equipment the children need to use.
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The people behind the app came together last week at the DMU Gallery to celebrate the success of DeApp in helping youngsters learn more about their condition.
Lee said: “We have been working on the app for about two years and it seemed right to bring together everyone involved and say thank you.
“It is really exciting. Right now we have a really good app with a lot of interest from the UK and abroad.”
David Terris, who worked on the app with Lee, and is now based at Nottingham Trent University, said: “So many people have worked very, very hard, from designers, illustrators and animators to the hospitals giving up their time. I am really proud of it. It is helping a lot of kids and is really making a difference to people’s lives.”
Sarah Lockwood-Lee, the DeApp Project Coordinator at Leicester Royal Infirmary, said: “I am so happy with the app and want to thank everyone who has been involved.
“I can’t wait to see where it goes. To have an app and know it is improving the lives of hundreds of kids is like winning the lottery to me.”
Consultant Endocrinologist Dr James Greening, who looks after children with diabetes, said: “We are very good at being doctors but not very good at being teachers! We needed to do something to engage children and inspire them with their education about a life-changing condition.
“It has been lovely working with the DMU Design Unit who have been able to translate medical gobbledegook into a beautiful learning tool. They have done a fantastic job.”
Posted on Monday 2nd December 2019