Founded in 1986 by Chris Gillespie and Charles Fox
I have been working in the field of diabetes for nearly 50 years and in 1980 came to Northampton General Hospital as a “physician with an interest in diabetes”. While I was still settling in to Northampton, Chris Gillespie appeared in the clinic. He was doing his PhD in Clinical Psychology and looking at how doctors in diabetic clinics relate to their patients. At that time, I took the traditional approach to diabetes and would routinely advise patients to alter their insulin or lifestyle in a way that I thought would be helpful to them. Chris taught me that one must first listen to the patient to find out what matters to them and then work with them to plan realistic changes that might improve their lives.
We went on to design a course to help health professionals develop for themselves a different way of working with patients with a long term condition – or chronic disease as it was called in those days. We wanted to participants to go away with an understanding of the philosophy of patient-centred care and a working knowledge of the skills needed to apply this approach. We also devoted time to consider how they could apply these skills in their own working environment. The Course became known as the Knuston Hall course after the attractive education centre in the Northamptonshire countryside, where we have run the course for over 30 years. The course relies on a faculty of dedicated and skilled professionals who help with the planning and everyday running of the course.
In 2007, we incorporated the empowerment model into the course and we have good evidence that Knuston graduates are able to employ both communication skills and empowerment techniques into their normal practice when in consultation with people with diabetes. My annual exposure to the Course and contact with fellow faculty members is the most rewarding part of my professional life.
I have been working as a physician in the diabetes field for over 30 years and joined Charles Fox in Northampton in 1991. Charles introduced me to the Knuston counselling course in 1992 and the skills I learned on the course have had a huge impact on my approach to all patients, not just those with diabetes.
I became a facilitator in 1997 and have felt privileged to experience the Knuston process at work on an annual basis. The course has evolved over the years and in 2007, after participating in a workshop on empowerment, we decided to adapt the course to include the empowerment process. As a result, the focus of the Course has changed from simply teaching counselling skills to developing a framework for helping patients explore their options for change.
I was a diabetes specialist nurse in Glasgow for over 20 years before moving to Northern Ireland to join Diabetes UK Northern Ireland as their National Care Advisor.
My main interests in nursing have been in psychological care and patient empowerment. I have developed these interests within the context of my roles especially in the areas of research, counselling and communication as methods of enhancing education and behaviour change. In 2000 I was awarded a Master of Philosophy degree for a phenomenological study on the personal experience of empowerment in people with Type 1 diabetes. I completed a post graduate diploma in 2002 in communication & counselling using Transactional Analysis as the underpinning model
I have been a facilitator with the Knuston course since 1987 and have continued to feel privileged to be part of the participants’ experience as they encounter the person centred approach in action and make sense for themselves of the value of the empowerment model.
1989 – 2014 (retired) Consultant physician acute & general medicine, diabetologist/endocrinologist
2003 MA (distinction) Humanistic Person-Centred Psychotherapy
2015 Therapeutic supervisor – United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy
2004 – 2018 (retired) Director diabetes counselling unit – Reflections – housed within the Nottingham City hospital Diabetes Centre.
psychological issues relating to diabetes and its management
psychology of shame and its relationship to diabetes self-management
providing personal development support and supervision for trainee and qualified counsellors/psychotherapists
I am privileged to be a member of the Knuston faculty; the course seems as fresh as ever and each year I am amazed at just how it can so positively transform the working lives of diabetes professionals and in turn the lives of their patients who on a daily basis manage their own diabetes.
I have worked as a Nurse Consultant at the University of Leicester for past 10 years, working collaboratively with primary care trusts to improve diabetes services across Leicestershire. The last 28 years of my nursing career have been spent working in the field of Diabetes. This was provisionally in Nottingham and Derby, and now in Leicester.
More recently I moved into a Nurse Consultant role in collaborative leadership in Applied Health Research and Care. My research interests are in developing and testing structured education programmes which support self-management in people with diabetes and in the prevention of diabetes including the training and quality developments of healthcare professionals delivering these interventions. I have enjoyed being instrumental in setting up the Diabetes Masters Programme with the University of Leicester and have a keen interest in healthcare professional education to improve standards of care for people with diabetes.
Underpinning all of these patient and HCP programmes, my philosophy has always reflected an empowerment approach.
I have been involved since 1987 with the Knuston Counselling Course but took a break for the last 6 years. I am delighted to be rejoining the faculty and meeting future participants.
Diabetes Nurse Specialist, Endocrine Unit, St Columcille’s Hospital Mary qualified from MMH/UCD with a Higher Diploma in Diabetes Nursing in 2002. She has worked as a Diabetes Nurse Specialist in the Diabetes Service, St Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown, Co Dublin for over 20 years. Over that time, she has been a member of the Irish Diabetes Nurse and Midwife Specialist Association and has been involved in the development of guidelines and resources for the management of diabetes both locally and nationally.
She was a founding member of the Irish DAFNE group and has been a Knuston facilitator faculty member for 2 years. Her research interests include the management of diabetes in young adults, patient empowerment and technology in diabetes.