Diabetes Self Management Training Key to Living with the Disease

Those with diabetes can find the support they need at Riverside Medical Center (RMC) so they can enjoy a healthy life with the disease.

Certified Diabetes Educators (CDE’s) are working with ThedaCare Physicians-Waupaca to improve diabetes control and increase the use of diabetes self-management training (DSMT). “DSMT gives the patient the opportunity to manage their own disease in their own daily lives, in the way they live their life,” said Marci Reynolds, RN, CDE and supervisor of Health and Wellness at RMC. “Research clearly shows that people who have had DSMT, and have learned to participate in the management of their own diabetes, have better outcomes than people who don’t.”

Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic progressive disease. Treatment is based on the daily blood sugar levels, and the A1C level, (which is an average of the daily levels) which must be kept in a target range to avoid devastating complications, such as heart disease, stroke, amputations, depression, blindness and kidney failure.  These numbers are all affected by many lifestyle-related things, including weight, activity, stress, smoking; as well as other factors including medications, length of time the person has had the diabetes.

Diabetes self-management training is considered a “standard of care” for people who have diabetes, said Reynolds. “There is so much to learn about the disease and treatments, as well as how to make healthy lifestyle changes,” she said, noting that DSMT is a benefit under Medicare and “most insurance companies also recognize that for a person to stay healthy, this self management training is crucial.”

Diabetes patients can participate in meetings, either one-on-one with a CDE or in a group setting, or in educational programs and services like the Diabetes Education “boot camp,” which is a new education and exercise program. They can talk to their provider or CDE about treatment options such as insulin pumps and how to manage their medicines. All these resources help form “a trusting relationship with people so as they come back year after year and be helped on their journey,” said Reynolds.

But not all patients seek the resources available, said Reynolds. “I think in the past people viewed diabetes education as ‘you really aren’t doing good so now we’re going to send you to diabetes ed,’” she said. “It’s like being sent to the Principal’s office. That’s just a bad way to set it up.”

Instead, they want patients to see that diabetes self-management training can be beneficial.

“The patient is going to have this forever,” she said. “We want patients to choose, to be given the option and the resources to manage their own disease.”

Lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating and moderate exercise, can help with managing diabetes. “Every change they make is going to help,” said Reynolds.

She said many patients already know the changes they have to make. They need support and encouragement in taking those steps. DSMT “is really about coaching the person,” she said. “It’s about the patient making the change and setting the goals.”

Reynolds said RMC and ThedaCAre Physicians are working together to help patients achieve better A1C levels. “Successful diabetes management is a team approach, involving the person with diabetes as the head of the team,” she said. “The medical provider and the CDE are also members of the team, and research shows that it is through all the members working together that the best results are achieved.”

Also, ThedaCare wants to find out what barriers preventing patients from seeking resources and treatment. “It is the standard of care from the American Diabetes Association that everyone with diabetes go through diabetes self-management training,” she said.

A four-day conference will be held later this year to identify and address barriers like stress and cost of diabetes treatment. “We want to look at the whole community and all the barriers and identify how can we support a healthier community,” said Reynolds. “In the end, it’s financially beneficial to the patient, the health care system and the community to find ways to improve the resources and support for people with diabetes.”

For more information on the diabetes self-management training programs at RMC, call (715) 258-1183.