The DIALOR project is a collaboration between partners, all working towards having people live well for longer.  We are combining two established treatments (health coaching and digital self-management) to provide targeted, individualised care for symptoms of frailty and long-term conditions.

Responding to an increasing need

More people are living longer, and wanting to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible.  People need to know how best to manage symptoms of long term conditions and frailty, and maintain their health, so that they can live well for longer. 

69% of over 65s own a smartphone, so have access to apps and the internet. This technology can help people to live well by enabling access to person-centred advice and care. It can help share in decision making to meet wellbeing and health needs and reduce the burden on health and social care systems. 

There is also a need for consistency in healthcare, and regular support.  We are addressing this by combining digital support with regular health coaching sessions. Although both health coaching and digital self-management have a good evidence base, little research has been done on the combination of them, particularly for people with frailty, living at home.

How will the study be conducted?

DIALOR will develop an intervention for people with frailty and a long-term condition (diabetes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma), living at home.  Participants will have online health coaching for six sessions, and use a self-management application to manage their long-term condition for six months.

What we’ve done so far:

Create the intervention, by getting feedback from people with frailty and long-term conditions (LTCs), family and or carers, and frailty experts. Embed the intervention within local care services and train local health coaches with information on frailty, and a focus on exercise, nutrition, wellbeing and physical activity for it.

What’s happening now:

The intervention is live and we are continuing to recruit participants across Dorset.

What’s next:

Sharing our work far and wide with the aim of conducting a larger study, to determine intervention effectiveness.

Funded by NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Wessex

NIHR Applied Research Wessex logo

Working in partnership

Bournemouth University are heading up this project, with support from the University of Southampton.  We are partnering with a number of NHS and health organisations to deliver DIALOR.

Research partners

Patient and Public Involvement (PPI)

A PPI group is where members of the public are actively involved in research projects with research organisations.  Our PPI group has helped to ensure that the views of real life patients have been represented throughout the project.  We have now held three PPI meetings whilst setting up the study, run face-to-face, here at Bournemouth University.  The PPI group has guided the creation and refinement of study documents that participants will read, such as information sheets, easy read forms, handbooks and guides, as well as the recruitment process and how participants will be supported for the duration of the study. 

It is hosted by Jim McMahon, PPI co-lead, Matthew Sait (DIALOR’s research project officer), and Mark-Allen Pick (clinical specialist Occupational Therapist), and will re-convene in 2024.  We are striving for our PPI group to be comprised of a wide range of people, representing communities across Wessex and those from communities often underserved in health research.  If you think that you would like to be a part of this group, and help guide this research further, please do get in touch.

Jim McMahon

Jim is working on the DIALOR project as PPI co-lead, representing the PPI group during project meetings and with various other stakeholders across the region.  He is also advising us on the format and content of our communications with participants.  Jim has a passion for digital enablement from working for telecom and new media companies.  He has a drive to help Dorset transform the delivery of healthcare through enabling digital technologies. 

He joined the research team at Dorset County Hospital four years ago, leading to involvement in many nationally supported research projects.  He is a member of his GP Practice Participation Group (PPG) and an active member of the Wessex Patient Involvement Network.  Jim is also Chair of the Digital Public Engagement Group (DPEG) within the Dorset Integrated Care System (ICS), helping to shape a digital healthcare model that works for the patients and healthcare professionals.

Stakeholder Engagement Group (SEG)

The SEG is made up of professionals across Dorset and Hampshire, and members of our PPI group, to help guide the study independently of the research team.  We have had 3 meetings whilst setting up the study, run digitally with the assistance of Susanne Clark, BU’s Head of Service Excellence.  Taking part, we had representatives from Help & Care, BCP Council, NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board,  Havant and Waterlooville PCN, The Vale PCN, The Blandford Group Practice, and other voluntary and charity based groups.  Based on input from our stakeholders, we  have developed our Health Coach Handbook and finalised our study road map.  We will have a final SEG meeting in 2024, to discuss study findings and plan for scaling up.

Sharing our results

We have shared our work with the Ageing and Dementia Research Centre, BU’s Allied Health Professional Symposium, the BU-UHD research partnership conference, and the ARC Wessex and Wessex AHSN Summer Event.  We have been featured in the Bournemouth Echo and continue to share our work across various other platforms including social media via X (previously Twitter).  Check out the publications and resources section (below) for more details.

Making a difference

We are developing an intervention which will help people with some symptoms of frailty, and a long-term condition.  With this, people will be able to live well for longer, and manage their health independently.

DIALOR is an acceptability and feasibility study, which means that we are testing whether this approach works, and what people like and dislike about the study.  After this, we hope to scale up to a larger trial, making an impact on the care for frailty and long-term conditions across the country.

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