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Ninjabetic – The missing part of my diabetes care

By Editor
15th August 2014
Latest news, Ninjabetic

The Diabetes Online Community (DOC) is an online community of people with diabetes which meets on Twitter every Tuesday between 8pm and 9pm using the hashtag #OurD.

When people ask me: “What’s so great about the Diabetes Online Community ?” I sometimes find the question difficult to answer. Not because I struggle to think of the positive elements that the DOC brings to people and families with diabetes, but because it’s one of those things that you need to try for yourself to really understand just how wonderful it is.

I suppose it’s like starting a new job or school. At first you don’t know who everyone is; there are some names that you’ve heard before, but you haven’t put a face to them, you’re not sure of where you need to go or where the doors in your new environment lead to and you tend to sit at the back of the room watching and listening so you can observe others and see how things are done… Everything seems so different compared to what you’re used to, but soon you realise that there are thousands of people who have been in your shoes, been new to it all, and are there to help you… They want to help you!

Very quickly you realise that the new job or school can support you, educate you, empower you and help you progress. That, in my opinion, is what the Diabetes Online Community is all about and that is the reason I joined it and haven’t left since.

Support is a big part of the DOC and, I think, offers an element to diabetes treatment that is missing in many areas of the world, not just the UK. Support comes in many shapes and sizes, from different people in our lives, and the DOC provides unconditional support at the touch of a button. Never before had I been supported by complete strangers; people with diabetes, their families and friends and healthcare professionals, people who knew nothing about me or my situation.

It’s almost as if it’s the missing part of my diabetes care, the piece of the jigsaw that I had always needed, was there waiting for me online.

It’s almost as if it’s the missing part of my diabetes care, the piece of the jigsaw that I had always needed, was there waiting for me online.

It’s hard to describe the feeling (though I’m sure many people reading this will know) of being understood, and I mean really understood, during a time that is particularly difficult. This isn’t to say that our health care teams don’t do all they can to support and reassure us, but unless the person who’s sitting across from you has diabetes, or the family members that support their child with diabetes 24/7, it’s a different sort of understanding that makes the difference. This is why I’m so grateful to the healthcare professionals (HCPs) who join the DOC to gain a better understanding and suggest that their patients use it. Working together, the DOC and HCPs can cover all basis.

This brings me on to the relationships that patients and healthcare professionals have online and how quickly they are evolving to incorporate social media and diabetes care. A very holistic approach to care that allows an insight that, in the past, may never have been seen. When people ask me “What’s your number one tip for a HCP” my answer is always “know and treat your patient, not their hospital number.” What better way to do this than to see what people go through on a daily basis when living with diabetes?

As a student nurse myself, there is no greater insight into a condition than the account that a patient can give of their experience of living with it. That’s when you truly get to know a person and a condition. Not only that, but the DOC gives patients and HCPs something far beyond an insight. It allows for relationships to grow and for trust to be built. All too often I read warnings about HCPs engaging with patients online, allowing patients to see what happens outside of working hours. But this works both ways and I feel that a patient and a HCP sharing an online space is about mutual trust and respect. As patients we too are exposing areas of our lives that we might not during appointments, we too have to have a lot of trust in those we share this information with.

One great example I’ve seen recently was an online conversation between a patient and her diabetes consultant. A truly heart-warming example of what can be achieved when patients and HCPs work together online…

Twitter exchange

The DOC, as with any community, brings together all sorts of people, from all walks of life, and as such provides a rich variety of ideas and views on diabetes. I’ve learnt more than I ever thought I could from hearing other people’s views and management of their diabetes; watching their frustrations and triumphs being expressed online, proving the other side to the story that makes me stop and think about things from their point of view.

There are always discussions, sometimes even debates, about diabetes providing some really insightful views and, if expressed in a constructive way, often teach me something that I didn’t know before. This, for me, is one of the best parts of the Diabetes Online Community.

For more information on the Diabetes Online Community, click here.

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