Managing diabetes can be challenging, but having a dedicated diabetes healthcare team can make it easier. With the assistance of a range of healthcare professionals, you can learn all you need to know about diabetes, its treatment, and effective self-management.
Why build a healthcare team?
Your diabetes healthcare team plays a vital role in providing ongoing support to help you manage your diabetes effectively. They can educate you about options for managing diabetes, assist in setting self-management goals and action plans, keep a check on the various body parts that may be affected by diabetes (such as your heart, eyes, feet, and kidneys) during your annual medical examination, provide referrals to other specialists as needed, and write prescriptions when necessary to help you manage your condition.
To ensure you receive the most effective care for your diabetes, it’s crucial to keep your healthcare team informed of any changes in your diabetes management or overall health. This allows them to offer tailored guidance, therapy choices, and assistance to help you manage your condition better.
Who should be on your diabetes healthcare team?
When it comes to building your diabetes healthcare team, it’s important to remember that you are the most valuable member. In addition to your own involvement, your family and friends can provide crucial day-to-day support and motivation. Staying informed about diabetes can also help you make informed decisions about your daily self-care. Here are some healthcare professionals you should consider having on your team:
• Family Doctor/General Practitioner (GP) –
To help manage your diabetes and reduce the risk of related complications, it’s important to have a trusted GP to play a central role in assessing and monitoring your health. They can also address any health concerns you may have, prescribe your medications and refer you to a range of health professionals who can assist with managing your diabetes.
• Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE) – A CDE can provide diabetes-specific information and advice to help you stay in the best health possible and help you gain a better understanding of diabetes. They can also teach you how to monitor your blood glucose levels and offer guidance on sophisticated devices like insulin pumps and other helpful tech. You can ask your GP to refer you to a CDE in your area or find one on the Australian Diabetes Educators Association website.
• Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) – Optimal nutrition is crucial to managing diabetes, and an APD can help you achieve this through personalised healthy eating advice and plans. You can ask your GP to refer you to a local APD.
• Endocrinologist – An endocrinologist is a specialised medical professional who addresses health issues that arise due to hormonal imbalances, such as diabetes. They have expertise in creating personalised diabetes management plans and require a referral from a general practitioner to be consulted.
• Pharmacist – Your local National Diabetes Service Scheme (NDSS) Access Point Pharmacist can advise you on your diabetes medications, their benefits and side effects. They can also conduct a Home Medication Review with your GP, which is subsidised under Medicare.
• Podiatrist – A podiatrist can conduct regular checks on your feet to assess the likelihood of foot complications arising from diabetes, and offer recommendations to prevent them. They can also provide guidance on suitable footwear and optimal foot care practices. If you are seeking a podiatrist, the Australian Podiatry Association can assist in locating a qualified professional.
• Mental health provider – If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t underestimate the importance of seeking psychological support from a mental health professional such as a counsellor, psychologist, or social worker. Talking to them can help improve your diabetes management and overall health and wellbeing. You can contact them directly or get a referral from your GP.
• Eye specialist – Regular visits to an optometrist or ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye exam are important to help ensure the health of your eyes if you have diabetes. Even if you don’t need glasses, an eye exam is still recommended as most diabetes-related eye diseases don’t show symptoms early on, and if left untreated, can lead to vision loss or even blindness.
Your GP can also refer you to an ophthalmologist, a specialist eye doctor if you have serious eye complications.
• Dentist – It’s important to see a dentist who is aware that you have diabetes for regular check-ups which are necessary since high levels of glucose in saliva can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, and impaired gum circulation can hinder healing when injury or trauma occurs. Good dental health is important for your general wellbeing and has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly in people with diabetes.
Remember, building a diabetes healthcare team that works for you is essential to managing your diabetes effectively. By having a team of healthcare professionals and supportive family and friends, you can stay informed and motivated to achieve optimal diabetes management.
To find out about essential health markers your team can help you monitor, check out Diabetes health markers to monitor