The Power of Good Support

Living with diabetes adds to the challenges we face in life. Diabetes can be demanding as it requires daily decisions about healthcare, and usually necessitates daily self-care activities. Having the right support and diabetes self-management education provides the foundation to assist you to make the right decisions for self-care. Good support can provide the education or direct you to relevant educational resources, and help you to cope and sustain healthy self-care behaviours. Diabetes self-management education provides the knowledge, skill and ability to carry out the self-care behaviours.

Support is linked to improved outcomes

Support and diabetes self-management education has been shown to improve average blood glucose levels, decrease weight, improve quality of life, healthy coping and reduce the risk of dying. It has also been shown to reduce health care costs.

Accessing good support and education is important at all stages of your diabetes journey. There are four times in particular where the need for it should be assessed:

  • at diagnosis
  • annually
  • when complicating factors arise
  • if changes in care occur. This includes getting older – such as from childhood to adulthood, or moving locations.

Education should address your individual needs. It may occur in group or individual settings, be formal or informal, with or without the use of technology.

Your support team

It is important to find diabetes support team members who can provide the level of support you need. You are the central and most important member of your diabetes support team. Only you know how you feel, and you are the one to decide what you are willing to do. You need to be involved in setting the goals and plan for your care. The more open you are about your needs and the more information you provide for your health professionals, the easier it is for them to assist you. The language used when discussing diabetes should always be positive, encouraging and non-judgemental. It is helpful to write down any questions and concerns you have, and bring them along to your appointments. Bring along a family member or close friend if you feel you need extra support.

The members of your diabetes support team will vary depending on your individual needs. It could include a range of providers: general practitioner, diabetes educator, dietitian, nurse, optometrist, podiatrist, pharmacist, exercise physiologist, dentist, and/or mental health professional. Ideally the team should communicate the goals and progress of your care with each other. This means all involved are on the same page and the messages you receive are consistent.

Self-management education

There are a range of diabetes self-management education options that you can access yourself.

  • Fact Sheets: The National Diabetes Services Scheme has fact sheets on a range of topics such as diabetes care, nutrition, exercise, pregnancy, the annual cycle of care, and other health information.

The fact sheets are available electronically in pdf form, or you can request printed copies by calling the National Diabetes Service Scheme Helpline on 1800 637 700 or use the request a resource form.

  • NDSS Helpline: You can call the NDSS Helpline on 1800 637 700 to talk to a health professional about managing your diabetes. You can also ask for general advice on diabetes self-management, or learn more about NDSS products.

 

  • The NDSS online carb counting program: This program helps you recognise which foods contain carbohydrates (carbs), and learn about different methods and tools to help you count carbs in the food you eat. You can choose which modules are right for you—you don’t need to complete them all. You can just learn the basics, or progress further to gain more detailed information and skills. Start with the module “1. Program overview” to find out which modules are most relevant for you.

 

  • Educational events and workshops: There are a range of events including live and pre-recorded webinars, face-to-face workshops, and comprehensive education programs covering topics such as blood glucose monitoring, healthy eating, carbohydrates, physical activity, emotional wellbeing and support, how to minimise your risk of health problems and more.

 

By Helen d’Emden AdvAPD CDE

 

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