Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Old Things in New Ways?

The promotion of self-management of diabetes by the person with the condition themselves is not new. As far back as the 1940s, when insulin was relatively new in town and medications for Type 2 diabetes were hardly thought of, a young doctor called Robin Lawrence wrote in his book ‘The Diabetic Life’ – ‘the patient must be at once his own doctor, dietitian and lab technician’. This urge and acceptance that diabetes is absolutely a self-managed condition somehow got lost over proceeding decades, when health professionals tended to take charge of both medications and expectations

More recently there’s been a massive upsurge in ‘people power’ in society generally. The expectation and indeed, often, political will, is that people will do things for themselves. We are our own cashiers in the supermarket, our own bankers and even our own hotel receptionists. This upsurge has been replicated in medicine, not least because most illnesses these days are the long term variety, such as diabetes, that people have to manage themselves each day. This is well recognised, being mentioned in health policy documents as well as official guidelines and enacted in practical situations such as GP’s clinics and hospital wards. Indeed, our own work here at SD is all about promoting success in living with diabetes

Given this situation, the news this week that a major international meeting of the great and the good of diabetes care and education, held here in the UK, had formed an alliance which resolved to make diabetes care more person centred and promote self management, would seem rather unnecessary. Surely things are going in the right direction already? Do we need another layer of ‘initiative’ in this direction?

The truth is, as we’ve no doubt said before, that there is a lot of TALK about promoting self-management and being person-centred, but often the ‘old ways’ – a rather paternalistic approach, people being ‘told off’ for not achieving text book results, scant regard for the emotional turmoil which many people experience their diabetes, etc etc – persist, even supported by protestations that ‘the patients need me to tell them what to do, otherwise they wouldn’t know’

Hence a new, eye-catching way of promoting this way of being in relation to helping people really run their own condition has got to be good. The words might not be new, but the actions could reflect new times to come. We await this Alliance’s progress with our full support

Talking of old and new, SD is changing its ways this week, too. 30th September 2015 sees the last issue of our monthly newsletter, which has been running since 2008. Our refreshed communication plan is to make much more use of the instant means available to us, to update much more often using the 21st century tools of social media, Facebook, Twitter and the like – and add more frequent, but shorter, comment on the blog here. The need to communicate is as old as the hills, but the ways of doing it can be ever newly minted!


The Diabetes Times: Alliance formed to promote diabetes self management