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Visit to Slovenia for the SCUBY project

The second week of January I was visiting Slovenia together with my SCUBY colleague from the Medical University Centre Utrecht, Daniel Boateng. The objectives of our visit were to facilitate the process evaluation of the SCUBY project (mostly conducting stakeholder interviews) and familiarizing ourselves further with the Slovenian health system.

To give you an un-chronological overview of events as they came to pass:

Part 1 of this field trip: we met with the Slovenian SCUBY team members to discuss the process (and theory-based) evaluation of SCUBY. Moreover, we were given a tour at the Ljubljana Community Health Centre’s Simulation (SIM) centre, which is the first at the primary level in Slovenia providing training for professional staff as well as lay public. Fun fact: this (for all clarity: fake!) body for health care workers to practice with was made in the UK, at the same production house that created elves, orcs, goblins and dobbies for movies like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. The doll was made to look scarily real and can be made to bleed… Also, while the heart monitor was beeping acutely, she was made to breathe and sigh and cry out … which almost gave me a heart attack (I’m clearly no doctor!).

At the SIM centre

Part 2: our generous colleague Majda brought us to the Nurses and Midwives Association of Slovenia to meet with (another) Monika Ažman and Anita Prelec, president and chief executive officer of the association respectively, whom we interviewed about their role, their relation to SCUBY and efforts to further strengthen the roles of nurses within primary care. Fun fact 2: we’ve got this amazing goody bag with the Slovenian journal of Nursing, a meal box and socks...! That was new for me and made me wonder whether there may be unknowingly a competition going on for best goody bags!

Part 3: Daniel presented on the use of REDCap and provided support in data management.

Črt Zavrnik, Daniel Boateng and Tanja Stjepanovič learning about REDCap

Part 4 brought me to visit community health centres in Trebnje en Slovenj Gradec, where I learnt more about the pilot interventions being run there on m-health (telemonitoring for diabetes and hypertension patients) and peer support (with the aim of establishing diabetes chat groups led by newly trained peer supporters in their communities) which are followed up and evaluated by our fellow PhD colleagues, Matic Mihevc and Tina Virtič.

Majda Mori Lukančič (diabetes educator) providing training to Diabetes peer supporters

Part 5 of our journey over the snow-covered Alpes - and part of our warm welcome in the city of Ljubljana - brought us to (re)explore Slovenian wines.

Exploring the capital city of Ljubljana, Slovenia by tasting Slovenian wines

All in all, we had a full schedule with many enlightening visits, meetings, and interviews. We learned a lot and felt so warmly welcomed by the Slovenian SCUBY team.

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