Your Type 2 Diabetes Healthcare Team
Being told by your doctor that you have Type 2 diabetes can be confronting. For some people it can be a shock, and for others, even if somewhat expected it can still be a significant change to come to terms with.
We spoke to Amcal Pharmacist, James Nevile about some of the ways you can take a bit of control back and build a team of healthcare professionals around you to help you manage your condition.
When you’re thinking about who to include in your healthcare team, James recommends starting with these questions:
- How am I going to best manage my condition and control my blood sugar levels?
- How am I going to minimise my chances of developing diabetes complications?
Who should your core diabetes healthcare team include?
Your GP or local Doctor
In terms of how you can best manage your condition, there are a few professionals to think of. Firstly your GP. Your doctor has your overall medical history in mind and you should check in with them regularly – they can advise you directly on how often you should see them depending on your individual circumstances.
Your GP will be keeping an eye on a whole host of aspects of your diabetes including monitoring for things like heart disease and kidney disease that can accompany the condition. They are also a great guide on which other allied health professionals might be helpful for you and in some cases will provide referrals.
Your pharmacist is likely the professional you’ll see most often and they can help with a range of issues. Whilst advice about your medication is at the core of how your pharmacist will help you to manage your diabetes, they can also help you with other areas.
These include weight management which will help you to manage your diabetes overall and a range of other areas important in minimising the complications of diabetes like foot care, eye care, sleep apnoea and wound care.
It’s worth developing an ongoing relationship with a local pharmacy where you feel comfortable so that they can assist you over time to get the best results from your treatment. To help, we’ve compiled a guide to the top 10 questions people with diabetes should ask their pharmacist.
Credentialed Diabetes Educator or Practice Nurse
A couple of other professionals that might be helpful in the early stages following a diabetes diagnosis include a Diabetes Educator and the Practice Nurse at your local doctor’s rooms.
Both of these professionals are a great resource to support you with both lifestyle changes together with some of the other practicalities of managing your condition such as using your blood glucose meter. Your GP is a great starting point when it comes to making appointments with these types of professionals.
Other Allied Health Professionals
So now you have your core team of professionals that are helping you to manage your diabetes. Let’s now think about what other allied health professionals you should involve to ensure you minimise any complications of diabetes. You may have read about some of these potential complications but ideally you should make sure you’re checking with the right specialists on a regular basis to minimise your chances of associated health risks.
As you may have already read, foot care is critical for everybody suffering from diabetes. Regular checks with a podiatrist are a must. At the first appointment make sure you ask lots of questions about how best to care for your feet and make a plan with the podiatrist as to how often it would be appropriate for you to visit.
At a bare minimum, an annual visit should be considered or as soon as possible if you notice any damage to your feet. When selecting a podiatrist in your local area you might want to ask whether they have any particular areas of speciality or see other patients with diabetes.
Just as your feet are at risk of damage if you suffer from diabetes, so too are your eyes. Diabetic eye disease is often diagnosed once much of the damage has been done so catching it early is the best way to minimise the impact.
Finding a good local optometrist with the equipment to review the health of your eyes at least annually is crucial. Just like with the podiatrist, when you make your first appointment with the optometrist, ask if they see other people with diabetes.
For some people the desire to exercise comes naturally but for others it can be hard to know where to start. Going to gym on your own can be intimidating and indeed many people don’t enjoy this type of exercise. This is where Exercise Physiologists can be so important.
Finding a local Exercise Physiologist who has expertise in helping patients with diabetes can be a great way to get moving. Working with your Exercise Physiologist to find an activity plan that you feel comfortable with will help you to minimise your risks of developing complications from your diabetes.
Sleep and Hearing Specialists
Two other areas worth thinking about are your sleep and your hearing. Services to test both of these are often available in local pharmacies but many communities also have independent providers at sleep centres and audiology clinics. As you’re putting together your healthcare team it’s worth having an initial discussion with your GP or pharmacist about both of these areas and at least getting an idea of what’s important for you and when you might need to speak to these specialists.
Where to get more diabetes help
In this article we’ve covered a range of healthcare professionals that you might want on your personal healthcare team. This is by no means an exhaustive list and you should always speak to your GP if you’re unsure.
Gathering the right professionals around you and developing a longer term relationship with each of them is a great way to ensure you get the best outcomes for your overall health.
James Nevile is a registered pharmacist with almost twenty years’ experience in pharmacy who currently works as a Senior Pharmacist at Amcal and National Professional Services Manager at Sigma Pharmaceuticals.
James has been engaged by Sanofi to provide regular expert commentary for Diabetes-Care. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the expert and do not necessarily reflect the view of Sanofi.