New NDSS resource: ‘Caring for someone with diabetes’

The ACBRD has worked with Diabetes Australia to produce a new resource designed to support the family and friends of people living with diabetes 

By Prof Jane Speight

Caring for a family member or friend who has diabetes can be rewarding but also challenging. For every one of the 1.3 million Australians with diagnosed diabetes, there is usually a family member who also ‘lives with diabetes’ every day. This means that an estimated 2.4 million Australians are affected by diabetes every day. Yet, until recently, there were no Diabetes Australia/ NDSS* resources designed specifically to meet their needs. Now there is: Caring for someone with diabetes.

As part of the NDSS* Mental Health and Diabetes National Development Program (2012-2016), we developed a suite of Diabetes and Emotional Health factsheets for Australian adults with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, which were published in June 2016. During the development of these factsheets, we sought input and advice from our Expert Reference Group, people with diabetes, and the NDSS’s Medical, Education and Scientific Advisory Council (MESAC). From these consultations, it was identified that currently on the NDSS website, there are no emotional health resources, specifically targeting those people caring for someone with diabetes, i.e. family members or friends. Therefore, MESAC recommended the development of a factsheet specifically for family and friends who support people living with diabetes. Thus, we developed Caring for someone with diabetes, a factsheet for family and friends, which is now freely available via the NDSS website.

This factsheet is structured in a similar style to the existing Diabetes and Emotional Health factsheets and divided into three sections:

1) Information about what is it like to be a carer for someone with diabetes (i.e. acknowledging that caring for someone with diabetes may leave you feeling distressed);

2) Evidence-based tips and strategies for managing health and well-being in the caregiving role and how best to support the person with diabetes;

3) Where to access additional information and support (e.g. referral to relevant health professionals and professional Helplines).

The development of the factsheet was led by Dr Adriana Ventura (formerly: ACBRD), Dr Christel Hendrieckx and Prof Jane Speight, with valuable input from our NDSS Expert Reference Group (acknowledged below). We focus tested the draft factsheet, using semi-structured, one-to-one consultations with a small group of people representing various familial relationships (mother, husband, daughter, wife of someone with diabetes). The aim was to gain input from those who support people living with diabetes, in order to ensure that the information and recommendations were acceptable and appropriate from their perspectives. Overall, all of those consulted indicated that the factsheet was of high quality and they were very pleased that this resource would become available. They made only minor suggested changes. For example, to include a breathing exercise, and to emphasise that they are ‘not alone’ and support is available. We considered all of the feedback provided and made the suggested changes where appropriate. We are delighted that Caring for someone with diabetes, a factsheet for family and friends, is now freely available via the NDSS website.

To read more, check out our blogs focused on family members.

* The National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) is an initiative of the Australian Government administered with assistance from Diabetes Australia.

We acknowledge funding from the NDSS, and the valuable input of our NDSS Expert Reference Group: Prof Prasuna Reddy (Chair) – Professor of Mental Health and Implementation Science (University of Technology, Sydney); A/Prof Roger Chen (Deputy Chair) – Director of Diabetes Services (Concord Repatriation General Hospital) and Clinical A/Prof (University of Sydney); Dr Gary Kilov – GP (The Seaport Practice) and Clinical Senior Lecturer (University of Tasmania); Dr Christine Walker – CEO and Health Sociologist (Chronic Illness Alliance); Elizabeth Cornish – Registered Nurse, Roistered Psychiatric Nurse, and Credentialed Diabetes Nurse Educator (Austin Health: Diabetes Care – Management & Assessment Service); Mari Harrison – Dietitian and person living with diabetes; and also the support of Caitlynn Ashton (ACBRD Research Assistant).

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