Diabetes is a lifelong disease that is best managed with the support of a diabetes team. The team approach helps you to learn all you need to know about diabetes, treatment and management.
Many people can be part of your health care team to help you live well with diabetes. Your team can be made up of health professionals as well as your family and friends. But you are the most important member. You make the day-to-day decisions about your diabetes, and the more you know about diabetes, the easier this will be.
Following are the kinds of people you may wish to have in your health care team. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.
Your doctor has a central role in assessing your diabetes and helping you manage it. They can refer you to any specialists that you may need to see.
A Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE) will work with you to help you understand and manage your diabetes. They can provide a wide range of general information about diabetes and associated complications.
A dietitian will work with you to develop a personalised healthy eating plan to suit your lifestyle, your type of diabetes and individual health needs. They can teach you how to read food labels, modify recipes and even how to order at restaurants.
An endocrinologist is a medical specialist who can provide expert advice on the management of diabetes. They know how to treat conditions that are often complex and involve many systems within your body.
A podiatrist can help you care for your feet by checking the general condition and structure of your feet. They will look for changes, for a loss of sensation or a decrease in blood supply.
An optometrist prescribes glasses but can also check for eye problems.
An ophthalmologist is an eye specialist who will monitor your eyes for any changes and arrange treatment if required.
A pharmacist at your local NDSS Access Point can give advice about how to get the best benefit from your medicines and discuss the side effects. Pharmacists have a broad scope of knowledge which can help you manage different medications. Your doctor can ask for a pharmacist to do a medication review with you.
A dentist who knows you have diabetes can regularly review your teeth and gums with your condition in mind, being aware of increased risk of tooth and gum decay (from increased sugar levels in the saliva) and impaired circulation around the gums preventing healing after trauma. You should see your dentist once every six months.
A counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist or a social worker can help you if you are having any kind of trouble dealing with the psychological side of diabetes. This is just as important as the physical side of diabetes as stress hormones aren’t good for diabetes or your general health and wellbeing.
An exercise physiologist/physiotherapist can help you determine the appropriate exercise/activity plan for you, individually suited to your needs and lifestyle.
Diabetes Centres can provide you with specialised advice to help you manage your diabetes. Diabetes Centres are located in public hospitals, some private hospitals and some community health centres. Your doctor can arrange a referral to a Diabetes Centre near you.
Your family and friends can provide day-to-day support and assistance in managing your emotional health, physical health, and motivation for diabetes self-management.