Women of Skid Row
- Women for Wellness Program -
The Women for Wellness program was hosted at the Downtown Women’s Center, a community-based non-profit organization providing housing and supportive services to adult women experiencing poverty and homelessness. Based on the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) model, the program provided weekly group classes and individual coaching to monitor food and activity goals, blood pressure, Body Mass Index, and A1c levels. The facilitator was trained as a Lifestyle Coach for DPP, an evidence-based program funded by the National Institutes of Health and supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
DPP was adapted to this population in order to address their unique barriers – such as lack of affordable housing, financial stress, lack of affordable and nutritious foods, and safe places to exercise. Fifty women voluntarily enrolled in the Women for Wellness Program for one year.
Women for Wellness Program Results
Attendance fluctuated by month, but generally remained consistent throughout the year. If participants missed group sessions, they were able to meet with the Lifestyle Coach in order to make-up the session. Phone sessions were also allowed if participants could not attend in-person sessions due to major health or housing concerns such as temporary hospitalizations.
As measured by the 100 Million Healthier Lives Well-Being Survey, after 6-months, women perceived a 44% increase in ‘Healthier Lives’ and by the end of the year, they described an 84% increase in ‘Healthier Lives’. The Women for Wellness program achieved an 84% increase in ‘Healthier Lives’ by the end of the year, indicating that the participants’ overall sense of well-being had improved since the beginning of the program. As social support and female empowerment themes were incorporated into the program, participants may have developed stronger relational bonds with each other and the facilitators throughout the program, increasing well-being indicators.
Out of the 50 participants in the one-year program, 48% improved Body Mass Index totals from baseline and 92% improved Blood Pressure from baseline. Out of the 34 participants who completed the A1c screening tests, 44% reported an improvement from baseline. The percentage of overweight individuals decreased from 28% at baseline to 26% at the end of the program. The percentage of obese individuals increased from 50% at baseline to 56% at the end of the program. During this program, the percentage of participants who were permanently housed increased from 32% to 44%.
The program also provided instruction for blood pressure monitoring, which may have increased participants’ self-efficacy for self-monitoring behaviors. A slight decrease in overweight percentages and an increase in obese percentages suggest that the program was not as effective in weight management outcomes.
Being a part of this diabetes program has changed my life! I learned that even if we can't afford a lot of foods out there, we can still find ways to eat healthier. I am so glad this program was available to us for free. I learned so many new recipes that are affordable and easy! I can't wait to try them on my own.
I loved this program. Even when I gained weight from the last weigh-in, I was still encouraged to keep trying. This program is about us women learning how to take care of ourselves. To love ourselves first. And that means taking the time to make sure we are eating well and exercising.
I have met other women in the classes who understand where I have been. Managing my diabetes while being homeless is so challenging, but coming to this class encouraged me that there are people out there that care. And they want to help us get healthy.
- Women for Wellness Program Participants