There are several strategies to ensuring that diabetes programs endure. Successful programs have involved partnerships and policies at their core. It is also important to increase capacity and support among partners and the community being served. Sustainability can be achieved by diversifying funding streams and sharing organizational functions.
Several important strategies for achieving sustainability include:
- Strengthening partnerships: Partnerships have the greatest potential to make an impact on rural communities. Building synergy between organizations with common goals has the potential to increase visibility of the program and stress the importance of the health behavior message.
- Building capacity: Training program staff to meet defined levels of proficiency with diabetes prevention and management ensures that the skills and knowledge needed for program implementation are available. It is also essential for ensuring that staff can sustain a level of effort needed to accomplish individual and community-level changes. Train-the-trainer models can facilitate wellness activities in communities, allowing individuals and organizations to put learned skills to use to achieve and sustain overall wellbeing.
- Diversifying funding streams provides greater opportunities for ongoing diabetes program efforts by not relying on a single source that could diminish over time. Strategies include leveraging existing resources, pursuing grants, and local fundraising as well as seeking reimbursement through private & public healthcare plans (e.g., Medicaid and CHIP).
- Organizational or structural changes: Evaluation findings can inform decisions regarding which program elements to continue, eliminate or scale back. Evaluation findings can also be used to decide if program components are better provided by other organizations. Some rural communities chose post-grant options that scale down operations, decreasing the number of program offerings, participants, services offered, or distributing responsibilities to willing coalition members.
- Developing effective messaging: Communication and messaging strategies can have a lasting impact. Sustainability can sometimes be achieved through messaging by raising awareness and creating a conversation causing people to rethink their behaviors and decisions.