Case Study: Swimming with the T1ED

Authors(s), Creator(s) and Contributors: Katja Stiller and Jane Hubbard

Publication Date: 01/04/2022

Categories: Case Studies

Partner(s): Paediatric Diabetes Cardiff & Vale UHB, NHS Wales Collaborative, PHW NHS Trust

Funder(s): All Wales Diabetes Implementation Group NHS Wales Health Collaborative


Swimming with the T1ED was a 3-month on-line creative collaboration between Breathe Creative and Cardiff & Vale UHB Paediatric Diabe’c Unit giving a voice to young diabetic parents and raising awareness of Type 1 diabetes in Wales to support improved services. Breathe Creative were approached by Dr Rhian Murphy (Clinical Psychologist Paediatric Diabetes Cardiff and Vale UHB) and commissioned to produce an animation representing the patent’s voice. We worked with young adults with lived experience of Type 1 Diabetes across Wales for a period of three months. The sessions were supported by Sara Crowley (Diabetes Transitional Care National Coordinator NHS Wales) and Rachael Humphreys (Paediatric Diabetes Specialist Nurse Cardiff and Vale UHB).

The Challenge

The primary aim was to address the anxiety and wellbeing concerns of young people living with Type 1 diabetes and eating disorders. The secondary aim was to raise awareness of the condi’on and improve services.

The Approach

We used a Person-Centred approach where participants co-create with arts professionals and a therapeutic arts facilitator. Through a series of 12 weekly virtual sessions the 5 participants reflected on their experiences of Type 1 Disordered Eating in a safe, calm environment, learning relaxation techniques and exploring creative expression through art, drawing and creative writing. The participants created artwork and character design to add to the style of the animation. Through discussion we developed a script which the group felt represented the issues involved. All sessions intentionally increased participant’s self- awareness, confidence and self-esteem.

The Impact

Our evaluation was measured by feedback from the partcipants and through the successful launch of the film at the Children and Young People’s Wales Diabetic Network on 22nd March 2022. The audience consisted of a Paediatric Diabetes Mul’-Disciplinary team made of Paediatric Consultants, Associate Specialists, Specialist Registrars and Trainees, Diabetes Specialist Nurses and Dietitians, Psychologists, and other Healthcare employees.

Lessons Learned

It was invaluable to have Health professionals in the sessions who could answer medical questions and inform the process; the project gave them the opportunity to get a deeper insight into the experiences of their patients, and allowed them to see the personal experiences beyond their diagnosis .

The Legacy

The animation ‘Swimming with the T1DE’ (in English and Welsh) and Sound-Scapes ‘Are you OK?’ and ‘The Many Me’s’ will be on the NHS website. These resources will help raise awareness, train Healthcare professionals, and enable Type 1 Eating Disorder (TIDE) to become a medically recognised condition. The film and artwork will be also used in workshops, staff training and individual consultations with patients with Type 1 Diabetes, deepening understanding for patients with Type 1 Diabetes with Disordered Eating.

Website and Social Media Links

Contact Details

Katja Stiller

Tags: diabetes, paediatric, creativity, art, health,

Swimming with the T1ED