Our Children’s Diabetes team (pictured) marked World Diabetes Day today (Wednesday 14 November) by holding stalls at our hospitals, to raise awareness about the condition and talk about their work to support children living with diabetes.
Our team, including nurses, dieticians, consultants and even a psychologist, supports 320 children, predominantly with type 1 diabetes. The biggest part of their work is outpatient clinics, they hold eight a week. They also play a key role in the community, supporting families and educating teachers to help their diabetic pupils.
Anita Newstead, children’s diabetes specialist nurse, (second left, back row) shared a little more about how the team makes living with diabetes a little bit easier for the whole family:
“Our activity days are an important part of what we do. We hold several over the summer, this year we went to a trampoline park, to Stubbers Adventure Centre and held a teddy bear’s picnic. We also went bowling during half term. We always try to do something active, and provide some education too.
Days out give the children a chance to meet others in a similar position. This is important as living with a serious condition, which you’ll have for the rest of your life, isn’t easy for anyone, especially children.
Our insulin pump service is one of the largest in London with 100 patients on them. They’re great for children as they give them more freedom by administering a continuous flow of insulin.
We recently introduced the Freestyle Libre, a glucose monitoring system. Patients wear a sensor which gives detailed reports of their blood glucose levels. It’s painless and reduces the number of finger prick tests needed, also better for children.
We’d also like to introduce CGSMs (continuous glucose monitoring systems) for our patients. Availability is not consistent across the NHS, so we’ve lobbied our local MPs on the issue. Continuous monitoring is especially good for young children, or those who struggle to communicate.
Dieticians are a key part of our team, working with families to help them understand more about food and how what they eat can affect their insulin levels. Our psychologist provides mental health support, which is important as the whole family will often need to adjust.
Symptoms of diabetes include: thirst, needing to go to the toilet more often than usual, tiredness, losing weight, constipation and breathing difficulties.
The number of children with diabetes is high in our area, so what we do is really important. It’s a long-term condition so we encourage parents to work with their child and encourage them to learn how to manage their diabetes themselves.
This is really summed up by one of our patients, eight-year-old Lilly, when we asked how she felt about managing her condition:
‘Don’t let your diabetes control you, you control your diabetes.’”