Last week, I spent the week at Gold Coast attending the Roche Educators Day and Australian Diabetes Society & Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADS-ADEA) Annual Scientific Meeting. Among all the sessions I attended, one stood out and stuck with me.
Martha Funnell gave a powerful lecture on supporting effective diabetes self-management from the clinic to the community. She highlighted that diabetes may not be a person’s sole priority and it needs to be looked at within the context of their lives. Diabetes is only part of a whole person. A person can only focus on so many things at a time!
There is no such thing as non-compliance; behaviours are symptoms and it’s important we uncover the ‘why’ behind them. I fully respect Funnell’s practice of respecting a person’s decisions rather than judging them and labeling it as ‘non-compliant’. People know what they should be doing, the million dollar question is what’s holding them back?
Diabetes management will change over time. Change doesn’t mean failure and this needs to be understood by healthcare professionals and people with diabetes. As such, ongoing diabetes education and support is important. Just because a person has heard something once doesn’t mean they will remember it five years later when they need it most.
Buzzwords such as ‘patient-centered care’ and ‘shared-decision making’ has been thrown around for years but needs to put them into practice. These concepts are what I was taught in dietetics. From what I hear, it is being taught across all healthcare professions. It’s often talked about at conferences, yet I continue to hear and experience the opposite.
Perhaps these sessions are preaching to the converted. Healthcare professionals attend these updates due to personal and professional interest with a willingness to learn or improve. How do we get those who still believe in the hierarchical chain to tune in? We need to continue conversations beyond conferences and outside of Twitter. Not everyone can afford to attend these conferences and not everyone is on Twitter.
Long story short, healthcare professionals and people with diabetes need to work together. To accomplish this, a lot more listening and less judging needs to be happen.