My Diabetes Inklings

Roche Educators Day 2015 (#RED2015)

Diabetes conferences always leave me with so much to think with. Today I attended the Roche Educator Day – a separate day to the Australian Diabetes Society/Australian Diabetes Educators Association Annual Scientific Meeting (ADS/ADEA ASM). Perhaps it’s because I now have experience working as a healthcare professional or that I’m now more used to conferences, but I found this year’s topics very varied and mostly interesting. Here’s a not so quick summary of the sessions I attended this year.

Professor Jane Speight from the Australian Centre of Behavioural Research in Diabetes (ACBRD) spoke about adherence and motivation in diabetes management. She urged healthcare professionals to think about why people with diabetes may not be engaging in self-care. It’s not good enough (and silly) to assume that people don’t care about their diabetes. Sometimes, a lack of understanding or skills, financial constraints, emotional distress and beliefs or preconceived ideas of a treatment method could be the underlying reason. Jane then complemented this with practical tips healthcare professionals could use in encouraging people with diabetes. Focus on positive health messages rather than doom and gloom around complications; make the consult environment comfortable and safe for clients; ask questions but really listen and do so in a non-judgemental way.

Renza from Diabetogenic talked about harnessing the power of the online community for people with diabetes and healthcare professionals. Social media offers all sort of information. More importantly, people with diabetes utilise this instant response from all corners of the globe for support, reducing isolation and advocacy. We use this information to help problem solve our own diabetes roadblocks. In regards to wrong or inaccurate information? The diabetes community aren’t stupid – they are self-regulating. As soon as something promoting a cure pops it, the community jumps on it and shuts it down. That being said, when starting out in diabetes social media, look for reputable sources like the HONcode for blogs. See who established diabetes organisations follow. And the beauty of social media, if you don’t want to be involved, you don’t have to. You can choose to be anonymous or even lurk to keep up to date with the trends.

Appropriately the session before lunch belonged to Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) Dr Alan Barclay. He discussed the ever evolving research around carbohydrates, Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) and how that affects people with diabetes. Surprisingly, there is still a lot of confusion and misconception around carbohydrates, starches, fibre and sugar. Partly due to the media representation of these. The key message of his talk is that carbohydrates are essential nutrients. But food is more than just a collection of nutrients. It revolves around our culture in many ways. This often gets forgotten. It all boils back to eating less refined carbs, eat more fibre and have everything in moderation.

One of the most intriguing sessions was presented by Penny McCann on business law basics. People are terrified of law for the same reason people are intimidated by diabetes. There is a whole new set of language to know and understand. She explained what different business structures mean in terms of law and how it impacts practicing healthcare practitioners. The workshop turned into more of a discussion group where we picked the brains of our expert on legal problems we face in practice.

Finally we ended the day with a healthcare professional panel discussing two case studies (people with diabetes). The key messages from this session can be summed up in one beautiful quote of “diabetes complicates life and life complicates diabetes”. Healthcare professionals need to acknowledge that diabetes isn’t the only thing in a person’s life. People with diabetes also need to have adequate information to take charge of their own diabetes. When I was diagnosed, I wish I had known that I was able to choose my own diabetes healthcare team. I wish I knew about Enhanced Primary Care plans. And it was only last year that I found out about mental health care plans. So please if you are a healthcare professional, keep this in mind!

That concludes the Roche Educators Day for 2015. It was truly a wonderful event and now I’m absolutely psyched up to hear more about the latest in diabetes research tomorrow! Follow the hashtag #adsadea2015 (can you have a longer hashtag?!) on twitter for live tweets throughout the day at various events.

Disclosure: To attend the Roche Educators Day and the ADS/ADEA conference, I received funding from Deakin University as part of my Deakin University Postgraduate Research Scholarship. 

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