I walked away from the Australasian Diabetes Congress feeling that consumers had an even bigger impact than last year.
This was my second year attending the joint Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian Diabetes Society (ADS) and the Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA). Diabetes Australia pioneered a fantastic initiative called the ‘People’s Voice,’ which brought the voices of a few bloggers and consumer advocates to the Congress.
I don’t, for a minute, ever pretend to be representing anyone other than myself at events like these. I fully accept the privilege I have, knowing that I do not even come close to representing all people out there with diabetes. I’m super proud of all of the people with diabetes in attendance who drove this narrative home to the delegates, speakers and pharmaceuticals in attendance. In particular those with gestational diabetes, those with type 2 diabetes and those who are not as engaged as we are.
On Wednesday afternoon, I was lucky enough to contribute to a session which presented case studies on ‘co designing’ diabetes services with the involvement of people with diabetes. I spoke about my involvement with Perth Diabetes Care through the Young Adult Diabetes Committee. For more of a taste of what we do, you can find our Facebook page here. Melinda Seed at Twice Diabetes also spoke about her involvement with Reality Check and the resources that she helped to develop for people with diabetes.
As I said last year, I was so humbled to be in the presence of so many people that simply wanted to learn from us. The idea of this session was to plant ‘seeds’ in the minds of delegates, and we really did delve deep into some of the issues that were prohibiting the engagement of people with diabetes. I spoke about how big of a step it was for me to come along to a gathering of people with diabetes for the first time, and also sharing how much of a ‘slow burn’ some of our work in this space can truly be.
I have personally found the Diabetes Educators to be the most supportive, open minded and willing to learn from us. They are truly the people who approached me the most during the course of the week, and hopefully they will only bring more healthcare professionals and researchers along for the ride with us. I really do apologise for our narrative that, at times, can come across as assuming that all healthcare professionals are not person centred. We really are just passionate about person centred care!
The consumer voice was also championed on Friday morning during a technology symposium. As Professor Anthony Russell presented a narrative about the administration of insulin in a hospital setting, the dialogue that followed on Twitter was more interesting.
One of the biggest issues that I have heard from other people with diabetes is the forced relinquishment of self management in a hospital setting. People with diabetes are forced to relinquish their insulin. People have had to fight for the right to hold onto their insulin pumps or CGMs. Highly capable people with diabetes are often treated as incapable of self managing a condition that they spend relentless hours managing on their own.
I really hope to see a resource developed around the rights of people with diabetes to self manage in a hospital setting. If there are two organisations that I would like to see tackle this issue, it would have to be the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes (ACBRD) and Diabetes Australia.
People with diabetes also slayed the Twitter conversation. In a short two years, it really does make you wonder what they ever did without us? Ashley Ng ran a Twitter masterclass with the support of ADEA, encouraging healthcare professionals to get online. Just look at these amazing stats!
I am super proud of everything that the people with diabetes in attendance achieved throughout the week. I truly feel that the consumer voice was championed, and that we have proven our worth.
This is EXACTLY why we need to be at events like these.
Disclosure: Diabetes Australia covered my registration, travel and accommodation costs to attend the Australasian Diabetes Congress. My opinions and my time, including the annual leave I took from work to attend, are my own.