Most people with diabetes will lead long and healthy lives. Looking after yourself by learning about your diabetes provides you with the best chance to do this. Your doctor and other members of your health care team are there to advise you and to provide the information, support and equipment so that you can look after yourself and live your life in the way you choose.
It is important to know what diabetes care you should expect from your health care providers and what you should do.
You have the right to know
- What diabetes services and resources are available locally.
- Who is providing your diabetes care - their roles and responsibilities.
- Who to contact if you need information, support and advice.
- How you can meet other people with diabetes through your local BDA group.
- What you should do if you are not receiving appropriate health care.
You should expect your diabetes health care to include
- A treatment plan and self-care targets.
- Initial and continuing education for you and your family.
- Information on available social and economic support.
- Regular checks on your blood sugar control.
- Regular checks on your general health.
- Treatment for special problems and in an emergency.
Your role is
- To build this advice into your daily life.
- To be in control of your diabetes on a day to day basis as far as you are able. This includes monitoring sugar levels and changing your treatment in line with the results if appropriate.
- To know how and when to seek help from your health care team, especially in an emergency.
- To discuss your concerns and fears with your health care team.
- To ask questions and repeat them if they are not answered. You may find it helpful to prepare your questions before seeing your health care team.
- To inform others about your diabetes, especially your family and those close to you.
- To find out all you can about diabetes, checking what you have learned with your health care team.
- To follow healthy lifestyle practices, including choosing healthy food, controlling your weight, taking regular physical activity and not smoking.
- To examine your feet regularly.
- To attend for regular checks with your health care team.
Your treatment plan and self-care targets
The following should be given to you
- Personalised advice on healthy eating, including types of food, amounts and timing.
- Advice on physical activity.
- Your dose and timing of tablets or insulin and how to take them.
- Advice on how to change doses in line with your self-monitoring of blood or urine sugar if appropriate.
- Your target values for blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and weight.
What else do I need to know?
- The signs of low and high blood sugar levels and ketosis, how to treat these conditions and how to prevent them.
- What to do when you are ill.
- The possible long-term complications of diabetes (including possible damage to your eyes, nerves, kidneys, feet and arteries) and their prevention and treatment.
- How to deal with lifestyle variations such as exercise, travelling, social activities and drinking alcohol.
- How to handle any problems with employment, insurance, driving licences, etc.
What regular checks should I have?
These may vary according to your particular needs but should include, at least annually
- A regular review of your self-monitoring results and current treatment.
- A talk about your targets and any necessary changes.
- A talk about any problems and questions you may have.
- Continuing and updated education on diabetes.
- A check on your long-term blood sugar control.
- A check on your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking (your risk factors for heart disease).
- A check on your vision and eyes (with dilated pupils).
- A check on your kidney function (urine and blood tests).
- A check on your feet.
- A check on your eating habits.
- A check on your self-monitoring and injection techniques and injection sites.
What about any special problems?
- Advice and care should be available if you are planning a pregnancy.
- Children and adolescents should receive care and education appropriate to their age.
- If you have problems with eyes, kidneys, feet, blood vessels or heart you should be able to see a specialist.