An Angus Reid survey commissioned by Sanofi Canada in collaboration with the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA), released earlier this year, showed that 78.9 per cent of people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes do not have a full support system to help them manage their diabetes. Among respondents, 63.2 per cent strongly or somewhat agreed that living with diabetes can be a burden. Nearly half (45.2 per cent) reported they do not have emotional support in their life to help them manage the disease.
Diabetes educators have first-hand knowledge of the emotional and practical challenges faced by people diagnosed with diabetes.
“It’s often very overwhelming for people when they first learn they have diabetes,” says Susie Jin, a certified diabetes educator and pharmacist with Pharmacy 101 in Cobourg, Ont. “There is often a feeling of guilt. People with diabetes need to know that various factors play a role. It’s not your fault, but you do have the power to manage it.”
Sondra Sherman is a dietitian at a large Montreal hospital and a certified diabetes educator. She sees a lot of people with many misconceptions – whether they’re newly diagnosed or have been living with diabetes for years. “The added responsibility of managing diabetes in their already hectic lives can be lessened with the right tools,” she says. “People already have so much daily stress and may be thinking, ‘How can I possibly add more activities to my life, such as eating balanced meals and testing my blood glucose?’”
The job of these health-care professionals is to help people find the mechanisms to gain control of their diabetes and their lives. But many don’t have access to health professionals and don’t know where to get help.
Ms. Jin and Ms. Sherman agree that Canadians with diabetes have a lot of unmet needs, including the need for support on all aspects of diabetes management.
“People require advice and support tailored to them as individuals, because everyone’s diabetes is different and so is their lifestyle,” says Ms. Jin. “And they need counsel on how to make gradual but significant changes in their eating and physical activity habits – habits that have become entrenched over many years.”
“It is difficult for people to develop new habits that will allow them to self-manage their diabetes,” says Ms. Sherman. “The three cornerstones are healthy eating, physical activity and medication. But to juggle all of these priorities, we need to guide patients to fit diabetes management into their daily lives, and to build their confidence in their ability to do so.”
Both diabetes educators say one unique resource that addresses vital support needs is Sanofi’s STARsystem, which was introduced in Canada earlier this year. This web-based platform is accessed with the iBGStar and BGStar blood glucose meters and gives people a personalized action plan with manageable steps.
A key feature of the system is one-on-one health coaching and customized education modules based on the latest clinical research from the Clinical Practice Guidelines of the Canadian Diabetes Association – all available at any time of day or night on your computer, tablet or smartphone. It is another tool to support the goal of educators to help people with diabetes live a healthier life.
“The good news is that studies have proven that ANY small step towards better self-care will make a difference in your future,” Ms. Jin says.