Carers Corner

Message for Healthcare professionals

For a long time IDDT has put forward the view that carers should be more involved in their partner’s diabetes either from the beginning of the relationship where there is pre-existing diabetes, or from diagnosis. Yet so often they feel out in the cold, often by healthcare professionals.

Carers are the ones who pick up the pieces, who deal with the bad hypos and who smooth over difficult family situations, but many carers are telling us that they are not even allowed in the consulting rooms with their partners! If the partner with diabetes does not want them there, then this is a matter between the two of them, but if both partners want to be involved, then there should be no question of ‘not being allowed’ into the consulting room. Carers are not ‘interfering busybodies’ as diabetes does not just belong to the person with it, it belongs to the whole family.

Advantages of carer involvement

  • The carer can have a valuable input to the visit. Is the doctor really getting a true picture of what’s going on between hospital visits, how many hypos there have really been, how many violent hypos, and perhaps most importantly, how many hypos without warning symptoms? The person without diabetes certainly cannot report on these because he/she doesn’t know they are having them! Involvement of carers in the clinic visits is a two way process!
  • Any changes in the health or wellbeing of the person with diabetes are often noticed first by the carer.
  • A well-informed carer can save in health costs by being able to deal with some of the problems that can occur at home and preventing hospital admissions
  • If healthcare professionals meet the carers it would provide them with a greater understanding of the whole family and so would enable them to better tailor treatment regimes to individual needs.
  • Providing carers with more information and support increases their self-confidence and removes some of the fears and the feelings of exclusion.
  • A more contented carer may well lead to a happier, less stressful home life which has to be better for everyone. It can even improve the health of the partner with diabetes because stress affects blood glucose control. 

Quote from Helen, who has diabetes: “I have now changed my insulin from ‘human’ to pork and feel much better. My family says that I am back to my old self again. But I am angry that they had no opportunity to talk to my doctor about the changes that they had noticed so that the problems could have been sorted out sooner.”