When a child or young person is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes their life and their family’s lives changes forever. It is not easy for anyone. It is hard work day after day after day
But the care and support that a child and family receive from diagnosis can make a huge difference to their health and wellbeing, with that impact being felt for the rest of their lives.
Encouraging children and their families to take back control is all part of the process. Ensuring that they have access to relevant literature and resources is an important place to start.
This includes knowing who to go to with their questions and concerns.
Diabetes UK’s Type 1 essentials for children and young people outlines the 10 things parents should expect from their child’s diabetes care.
This is a useful resource for all nurses. Handing this out to parents so that they have the knowledge and tools to help their child live with Type 1 diabetes will make a difference to how they go on to manage the condition to adulthood.
Although Type 1 Diabetes is a condition which needs to be managed 365 days a year, I may only see my patients once a month.
Helping families understand insulin, counting carbohydrates and measuring blood glucose levels is crucial. Teaching and empowering the child or young person to actually take those tasks on is one step further.
Diabetes UK Children and Young People’s Care Event Care provide the perfect setting for this development.
For newly diagnosed children, their parents and siblings, but also all children at any stage in their childhood with diabetes, they can provide a safe and supported environment to take control of the condition. Families can get together with others who are in the same position.
I volunteered on my first Care event when I was a student nurse 26 years ago.
A diabetes specialist nurse suggested it would be an amazing opportunity to learn more about diabetes and I was inspired to follow a career as a paediatric diabetes specialist nurse.
The insight I gained from the events made me realise the difference I could make to both young people and their families.
You can see the confidence that attending a care event gives children and their families. The barriers come down and bit by bit you can see them realising they can live with their condition.
It also gives parents the confidence to help manage their child’s diabetes. I’ve learned that all too often it is the parents that struggle to cope with the children and their injections, not the children themselves.
I currently volunteer at Diabetes UK care events 20 days each year and each time I learn so much about how to support children and their families.
Volunteering on the family and children’s events gives me the opportunity to see things from “the other side” and understand the dilemmas they face, an invaluable asset when empathising with and addressing issues with my own patients.
The events have given me tried and tested solutions to offer my patients and I believe give me added credibility.
How can I get involved?
Events are held for children, young people and families with diabetes throughout the year across the UK. They are an all-expenses-paid opportunity for nurses and other healthcare professionals to gain experience of diabetes outside a clinical setting.
Working as part of a multidisciplinary team, you can meet key requirements in your professional development and gain greater insight into the issues facing children, young people and families with diabetes in their day-to-day lives.
For more information about volunteering opportunities, please contact the Care Events team on 020 7424 1000 or email email@example.com.
You can visit the website at: http://www.diabetes.org.uk/How_we_help/Care-events/Healthcare-professional-volunteering/
Download a copy of the full Type 1 essentials for children and young people at www.diabetes.org.uk
Sean Petett is a paediatric diabetes nurse specialist at Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust