Diabetes is characterised by high blood sugar levels that result from the body's inability to produce or use insulin. Along with the growing number of people with any type of Diabetes are the increased challenges many doctors face every day to provide optimal care. Adherence to treatment and time spent with people with Diabetes were two cited barriers to optimal care. Here, a Diabetes educator, as part of a strong core team, can help people with Diabetes learn self-management skills.
India also accounts for the majority of the children with Type 1 Diabetes. The last few decades have seen a major change in disease management. Unlike earlier, the focus has moved from doctor to the people with Diabetes. Today we empower people with Diabetes with knowledge, enabling them to take care of themselves. Diabetes
is a chronic progressive disorder that needs continuous care beyond what a doctor provides.
Diabetes may not have a cure, but you can manage it and live well. The increasing prevalence of Diabetes and the growing focus on its prevention require strategies for providing people with knowledge, skills and strategies they need and can use. This necessitates the patient to make multiple decisions for day-to-day care, such as diet, medication, insulin dose, etc.
Diabetes education is an important aspect of Diabetes management because Diabetes requires day-to-day knowledge of nutrition, exercise, monitoring, and medication.
Diabetes is not like any other disease where it can be treated only with medicines. There are a lot of other components to Diabetes, such as understanding the progression of Diabetes, nutritional management, physical activity, medications, glucose monitoring and psychosocial adjustment.
How Diabetes educators help Diabetes educators work in an interactive and collaborative manner to help patients with Diabetes and related comorbidities (cholesterol, high blood pressure,depression, etc). They can understand individual needs, identify specific self-management goals and evaluate and monitor progress.
Diabetes educators have the ability to counsel people with Diabetes and hence improve the outcomes of therapies provided by their doctor. They are familiar with the importance of self-care behaviour which reduces risks and complications associated with Diabetes. Diabetes educators can be a team member in the hospital as well as outpatient setting.
The Diabetes educator empowers the people with Diabetes to implement care that the doctor has prescribed and learn day-to-day lifestyle management. Not only
do Diabetes educators teach and educate' they also encourage and collaborate on how to manage and improve care. They are a vital part of Diabetes management and have the time to spend with people with Diabetes to help achieve the best outcomes.
Role of a Diabetes educator
The role of Diabetes educator is to provide the above information and form a link between the doctor and the person with Diabetes. S/he plays a vital role in providing Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) to the patients. As the Diabetes epidemic continues to expand along with the rapid spread of obesity, doctors, internists and family physicians are finding
it increasingly difficult to handle this growing epidemic. Diabetes costs a lot of money and Diabetes educators are the need of the hour to bridge this gap.
For many people, it is often challenging to manage Diabetes. Healthy eating, physical activity, monitoring blood sugar levels, taking medication and reducing their risk for complications are probably part of their daily routine. At times, all of this might seem overwhelming. But people with Diabetes can thrive with the help of a Diabetes educator.
Diabetes educators make managing your Diabetes easier. They work with you to develop a plan to stay healthy, and give you the tools and ongoing support to make that plan a regular part of your life. They will make people more aware of Diabetes, what it takes to treat it and gives you the power to control it that will help in improving lifestyle.
Diabetes educators can be the first point of call when people with Diabetes want more information, support or motivation in the management of your Diabetes.
For those who have already developed Diabetes, education about various aspects of Diabetes is of utmost importance.
Simple tips of 'how to inject insulin', 'using a glucometer', 'treating hypoglycaemic emergencies' can do wonders and at times can even be lifesaving.Diabetes educators can help people with Diabetes and their family in understanding how to use Diabetes devices, such as blood glucose meters, insulin pens, insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors. They can help them adopt healthy eating habits through nutrition education, including meal-planning, weight-loss strategies and other disease-specific nutrition counselling.
Monitoring blood sugars levels intermittently is important in managing Diabetes. Diabetes educators can help people monitor blood glucose and learn how to interpret and appropriately respond to the results.
Apart from monitoring it is also important to understand how medicines or particular insulin works. This is important especially in Type 1 Diabetes, every person should understand the type of insulin he/she is taking and how it works. A Diabetes educator can help people understand how their medications work - including their action, side effects, efficacy, toxicity, prescribed dosage, and more.
Diabetes educator can conduct monthly Diabetes support group sessions for people newly diagnosed with Diabetes. Diabetes educators can lead discussions and provide helpful tips and tools for living well with Diabetes. A certified Diabetes educator can help with every stage of Diabetes, from prediabetes to people requiring insulin.
Being a Diabetes educator
Diabetes educator is a highly skilled professional integral to the multidisciplinary Diabetes care team. S/he is the key to coordination of the interdisciplinary
Diabetes team and development of the plan of care for an individual.
Professionals from various health disciplines, such as: registered nurses, health professional with masters in social work, occupational therapists, podiatrists, optometrists, physiotherapist, physician assistants, clinical psychologist, registered nutritionists and pharmacists.
Basic academic requirements such as science graduate (B.Pharm, B.Sc/Associate of Science in Nursing or BSN, B.Sc in Nutrition or similar) and working in a job associated with a practicing physician or a diabetologist is the necessary eligibility criteria at the entry level.
In India, the National Institute of Public Health Training and Research (NIPHTR) Mumbai, established under Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare offers A Certified Diabetes Educator (COE) course.
Basic and advanced level Diabetes educator courses are also offered by private hospitals and non-profit organisations like Institute of Good Manufacturing Practices India.