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#NurChat - Take time to listen to people with diabetes

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Did you miss the latest #NurChat Twitter debate about diabetes? Let us sum it up for you…

How often do we take care of a person with diabetes in our working day? Well, for me in elderly long term care I often find myself caring for one or two people with diabetes on a shift - so, quite often.

But how often have we ever actually talked to a person with diabetes about their condition? Living with a long term condition can be very challenging; is this something that nurses truly understand?

This was a very unique #NurChat as not only did @Ninjabetic1 who has type 1 diabetes join the discussion but also numerous other people with diabetes (including nurses), in addition to the diabetes specialist dietician @northwnutrition and consultant endochrinolgist @parhtaskar. This allowed for an exciting discussion with a variety of viewpoints.

@WeNurChat started this #NurChat by asking are people more informed about diabetes these days? @type1teenager tweeted “Sometimes, the information is out there but patients will often have to take own initiative to look for it.”

@michellemellor3 stated “There is much more support out there for people with T1D today, supported by diabetic CNS.”

@northwnutrition added “Yes but sometimes misinformation is the problem.”  

@AdamRoxby then asked NurChatters “I want to ask, what can student nurses be doing differently to help patients with diabetes?”

@anniecoops replied “Don’t be frightened to ask your patients and work with them to sort out issues- #expertpatients.”

@michellemellor3 added “Diabetics don’t want to be lectured to .. they want support and advice when they need it.”

@KevinHamPlymUni stated “We have people with diabetes to give their life experiences on our diabetes module which is an eye opener for students.”

The issue of the way in which health care professionals raise concerns was discussed

@ninjabetic1 tweeted “One big issue that I have had in the past is that HCP’s focus too much on complications and not positive outlooks. Can be upsetting for us.”

@type1teenager stated “Without a doubt the fact that my nurse is a T1 herself is a massive help cause she ‘gets it’”

@anniecoops added “That’s so true! Never thought about it before - they tell you all the things that might happen.”

@northwnutrition tweeted “Interestingly dieticians have been told we need to focus on complications more and that we are too soft.”

 @theglucosekidT1 then raised an interesting issue: “Very important for clinicians to understand the psychological journey diabetics go on once diagnosed. Important to tailor advice.”

Many of the people with diabetes on the chat talked about being scared:

@ninjabetic1stated “At any age it’s hard to hear. But on 1st appointment at 17 I left in tears and didn’t go back”

@michellemellor3 said “Also difficult if person with diabetes needs to go into hospital for procedure, diabetes not always managed well … Hypos!!”

@type1teenager responded “Big fear of mine at the moment since I might need an op. I’m scared of the diabetes care after bad experience last time.”

@ninjabetic1said “Everyone’s different. Some people want to know as much as possible. I think this is why emotional care is so important.”

@EmilyStunek tweeted “Being diagnosed I think follows the same steps of the grieving process… You are losing a part of you one way or another!”

The subject of caring for people with diabetes when unwell was raised and @WeNurChat asked what can nurses do to help in these situations?

@anniecoops tweeted “Don’t assume pateints don’t know what they are doing self medication may be best in some cases.”

@ninjabetic1 said “Listen to what / how much the patient wants to know. They will come back if they need more.” and went on to say “If HCPs can find that rapport with patients then they will have a much bigger impact and influence on their care.”

As the chat drew to a close @WeNurchat asked NurChatters for their final thoughts.

@michellemellor3 said “People with diabetes need 2 control their diabetes, not the other way around. believer in this. Normal life with minor adjustments”

@DonnaNewcross stated “Patient knowledge is the power. Bleed them dry, lol! excuse the pun.”

@parthaskar tweeted “If in doubt,ask the patient. Still not sure,ask diabetes team,but if not sure,don’t PLEASE second-guess or “have a go”“

By listening to the people with diabetes who took part in this #NurChat it is easy to see that fear is often a factor and this struck me as something that we often forget as nurses - we are so used to hospitals, wards, operations and consultations that we forget that it is scary and a big deal for our patients. So we need to work on getting to know our patients and their fears and anxieties; we need to remember to treat the whole person and not the disease. It is so important that in our nursing lives we treat every person as an individual and this #NurChat confirmed this.

@ninjabetic1 said “Work with your patients and build that bond. We all need each other” and she is right. Working together is the way forward; the world is changing and people with long term conditions are becoming more educated about their conditions so we need to hear what each and every patient has to say as they all have their own story to tell and their own point of view. All we have to do is listen in order to learn.

Teresa Chinn heads up NurChat for Newcross Healthcare Solutions.

Nurchat is a fortnightly Twitter chat exploring different topics that vary enormously.

Anyone can suggest a NurChat discussion subject simply by tweeting @NurChat or by visiting the NurChat blog.

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