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A qualitative exploration of coordinators’ and carers’ perceptions of the Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) programme in residential care
Internationally, there are few studies that have trialled structured intervention programmes designed to prevent excessive weight gain or combat existing overweight/obesity for young people living in out-of-home care. The Healthy, Eating Active Living (HEAL) programme was designed to address this limitation and is, to our knowledge, the first programme that simultaneously encourages young people and their carers to engage in a healthy lifestyle. This is the second of two papers presenting the HEAL evaluation. The aim of this study was twofold: first, to explore the experiences and opinions of key stakeholders regarding the intervention programme; and second, to understand the key enablers and barriers to successful implementation of the HEAL programme in residential care. Seventeen carers and ten programme coordinators participated in semi-structured interviews. Findings demonstrated that HEAL was considered a valuable adjunct to the residential care programme, and was successful in raising awareness about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. Positive behaviour change among the young people and carers' dietary, physical activity and sleeping habits, and the development of independent living skills were described. Barriers to implementation included leadership support and professional development of carers. Recommendations are made to improve implementation, particularly around the importance of increasing stakeholder ‘buy-in’.