Together on Diabetes-NYC: A Community Control Project for Seniors

Together on Diabetes-NYC was, from 2012 to 2015, a community program in Washington Heights/Inwood designed to help seniors with diabetes to live well by gaining or maintaining control of their diabetes and minimizing the risks of serious complications.

United Hospital Fund, with grant support from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, organized a wide variety of community partners in Washington Heights/Inwood—senior service programs, health care providers, faith-based organizations, and businesses—to develop this first-of-its-kind diabetes program specifically focused on seniors, a potential model for community-based programs that could be replicated in other neighborhoods.

Together on Diabetes-NYC ultimately enrolled more than 1,600 seniors with diabetes from those two upper Manhattan neighborhoods. Once enrolled, seniors were connected to a variety of programs and services near their homes, including educational and support groups, cooking classes, individual coaching, and exercise classes. Together on Diabetes-NYC provided ongoing support to participating seniors to help them achieve their individual goals. 

Using a secure, private database, the program also monitored progress over time through the periodic assessment of self-care behaviors and disease management, as well as measuring participants’ perceptions of their overall health and quality of life. Over the program’s lifespan, it documented improvements in practices essential to good diabetes management, including following a healthy diet and adhering to medication regimens. More important, these changes were found to be sustained over time.

Seniors could be referred to the program by anyone in the community—primary care physician practices or clinics, senior service agencies, religious leaders, self-referral, friends, or relatives.

Partners, Sponsors, Funders

Together on Diabetes-NYC was sponsored by United Hospital Fund, which received a three-year, $2.8 million grant to support the program from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation as part of the Foundation’s national effort to tackle diabetes, Together on Diabetes: Communities Uniting to Meet America’s Diabetes Challenge.

The program included a broad partnership of community, health care, faith-based, and civic organizations, as well as pharmacies and other local businesses. In addition, the New York City Department for the Aging and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, both long  concerned about diabetes, worked closely with the project.

Contact: Deborah Halper


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