Working with Dietetics in HSE

In Donegal mPower played a key role in developing a Dietetic Behavioural Weight Management Programme which helped older people and others who are overweight.

Demand for this programme was high with 40 people on the waiting list for support from Community Dieticians. However, the Covid pandemic made it difficult to continue with this support and there was a danger that many of the people who needed the service would miss out.

mPower directed part of its budget towards the National Clinical Programme for Obesity to enable it to fund the employment of two dieticians for 16 hours a week for 40 weeks. The aim is to do a “test of change” which involved the development of an online dietetic-led, behavioural weight management programme.

The trial site in CH01 focussed on realistic, personalised and long-term behavioural change and aimed to address health inequalities within gender, communities and ethnic groups as well as targeting specific age groups including the over 65’s. Outcomes will determine weight management best practice, self-care and service provision and inform the National Clinical Programme Model of Care for the Management of Overweight and Obesity.

The pilot programme : 

  • provided access to a specialist led weight management programme; 
  • developed a Multi-Disciplinary Team approach to address nutrition, physical activity and behavioural change
  • included individual treatment goals  
  • provided a pharmacology element  

The expected outcomes include: 

  • Increase in self-management to support health, wellbeing and weight management 
  • Improved clinical outcomes  
  • Promote behavioural change models 
  • Define core outcomes and core process of programme  
  • Inform future Model of Care Weight Management Programmes 
  • Explore the use of technology to support programme objectives e.g. wearable devices, online resources  
  • Develop opportunities for Shared learning 

Already, this new initiative has led to a reduction in the waiting list for community dietetics and as it is online it has made the programme more accessible for users. Feedback has been extremely positive with some saying that because the programme is given on Zoom, they are able to participate whereas they may not have done so beforehand. One participant said:

“I don’t feel judged, I don’t need a weigh-in, just support. It’s just absolutely brilliant.”

Other participants have commented that there have been some unintended but positive consequences arising from the Covid pandemic such as a reduction in travelling time to this kind of service, leading to a reduction in costs and people have also improved and developed their IT skills.

The outcomes for this ‘test of change’ will inform the National Clinical Care Programme for Obesity and will determine programme specifics such as content, duration  and delivery prior to a national roll out. It is anticipated that this new model will become embedded in other parts of Ireland and the initial set up and results have also been shared with mPower Project partners in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Watch the HSE Community Weight Programme for Adults presentation from the mPower Festival here.