This paper will present findings from a research study, undertaken in Australia, to explore the meaning that older people with diabetes attribute to being involved in an exercise and health promotion leisure programme. A phenomenological approach was adopted to identify what participants perceived was meaningful to them about the experience of being involved in a leisure programme. Semi-structured interviews and a focus group were conducted with participants following the facilitation of a leisure intervention, which incorporated individualized physical activity and lifestyle education over a 12-week period. The primary goal of the intervention was to enhance the health and wellness of people with diabetes. A number of themes emerged from the analysis of participant interview and focus group transcripts. The overarching theme, and critical point of difference, identified in this research study, of effective leisure programmes for health and wellness purposes, is person-centeredness. This essence of meaning, person-centered programme efficacy is explored as a key to ensuring the effective design, promotion and delivery of leisure programmes for older people with diabetes.
Since determination of an effective leisure programme can only be established by those involved, the expertise of the participants on their own journey is recognized throughout this presentation by privileging their voices and presenting their words, thereby allowing the findings to be contextualized through the lens of the participants. It is anticipated that exploration of these findings can lead to better understanding how participant engagement particularly of older people, in other health promotion leisure programmes can be enhanced.