Where To Get Help
Your General Practitioner is the key person in your diabetes team and should coordinate your care. Your General Practitioner and staff at their practice are the best starting point to understand and control your diabetes or to reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Your doctor should be aware of which local services may be available this may include hospital based diabetes services and or hospital based health professionals such as dietitians, diabetes educators and podiatrists. Hospital based services may be unavailable or have extremely long waiting lists and in many cases the best option can be to seek private services.
The key to controlling your diabetes or risk of diabetes is to take control of your own care and find out as much as you can about diabetes. While the way we are delivering services is changing rapidly and our medical professionals are extremely dedicated hard-working individuals with your best care in mind some of our systems deal poorly with chronic diseases like diabetes. This coupled with a significant shortage of medical and allied health professionals makes it absolutely essential that you drive your diabetes care yourself becoming a good “self manager of your disease”.
Because our health care system is designed to deliver acute, symptom-driven care, it is poorly configured to effectively treat chronic diseases such as diabetes that require the development of a collaborative daily self-management plan.
The choices that you will make each day as you care for your diabetes has a greater impact on your diabetes control than those made by health professionals. You are in charge of your self-management behaviors so you need to be heavily involved in seeking help with your diabetes. You are in control of which recommendations will be implemented or ignored.
Diabetes is both controllable and preventable but nothing your doctor dietitian or exercise physiologist offers will fix your diabetes what you choose to do with the tools they give you will. Your job is to become actively involved with all members of your care team and piece together what skills and knowledge you need from each of them then formulate a plan with your doctor as to how you are going to do this.
Systems have been put in place to support this type of model and many diabetes centers and individual diabetes educators spend significant time developing patient self management skills.
Medicare has developed a system of chronic disease management plans and support through its chronic disease management plans and team care arrangements which allows for access to up to 5 visits to allied health professionals each calendar year.
This system was designed to involve you in the decisions and be personalised for you so that you and your doctor can decide who you want to see and what you want to get out of these professionals.
This system has many limitations .
- It only offers five subsidized visits per calendar year spread across all practitioners regardless of your actual needs
- The subsidy was frozen in the medicare rebate freeze in 2013 despite the fact costs have been increasing at 8-10% a year, leading to health practitioners either reducing time spent with patients or increasing out of pocket costs
- It was designed to help support patients and GP,s to put time aside to develop a shared plan with goals and support but it is not clear if this has actually occurred
Please do not rely on your doctor to manage your diabetes for you it is your life and your disease only you can control it, your doctor can help you with decisions and treatment options but the diabetes Journey is yours
A number of self management programs are also available
Your jobs are
1. Take this disease seriously if you get on top if it diabetes can be little more than a nuisance
2. Look to slowly build your knowledge at your pace
3. Formulate a plan with your doctor as to how you are going to tackle it then seek whatever help from other health professionals or outside groups you need
4. Assess what extra help you need to continue to be successful in behavior change
5. Look to take charge of you diabetes management and become a good self manager.
Self management skills sit on top of the nuts and bolts of things like food and exercise and is more about you developing skills and habits to look after your diabetes for the rest of your life. Even if your diabetes is well controlled you should always seek self management courses and education as the more you know about diabetes the better job you will do of looking after yourself.
Those that do well with chronic diseases like diabetes show these characteristics
1. Have knowledge of their condition
2. Follow a treatment plan (care plan) agreed with their health professionals
3. Actively share in decision-making with health professionals
4. Monitor and manage signs and symptoms of their condition
5. Manage the impact of the condition on their physical, emotional and social life
6. Adopt lifestyles that promote health.