Outreach project helping diabetic children

An outreach project, initiated by funding from Imperial College Healthcare Charity, has allowed paediatric diabetes dietitian Mae Said to visit over 30 schools and 40 patient’s homes in the London boroughs of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, since July 2012.

Based at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Mae’s main aim is to educate children and their families in their homes about a child’s diabetes and to educate and support schools to help children maintain safe blood sugar levels.

Mae says: “Up to a third of a child’s day is spent at school and it can be very stressful for school staff not to know how best to handle the inevitable fluctuations in the blood sugar levels of a pupil with diabetes during the course of the school day. Ensuring that staff are adequately trained in accurately administering insulin doses is crucial to helping diabetic children maintain good blood glucose levels.

“A lot of my effort is dedicated to diabetes myth busting, and giving school staff a clear understanding of the condition. Some schools I have been working with have undergone huge transformations, from having little idea of how to help a pupil through to managing a child’s glucose extremely well. Staff who were unsure previously feel far more confident and comfortable now.”

Having the opportunity to visit patients in their home is extremely helpful too, as Mae explains: “When patients and parents are in hospital it can be difficult to absorb all the information you are given about diabetes and how to manage it. Being able to visit families in their own surroundings can reduce anxiety, and parents can relate to me more easily. In turn I can provide advice which is specifically tailored to their lifestyle and diet.”

“Patients and families often benefit from continued regular support, and this new service enables me to provide this intensive level of input. My knowledge of patients is so much richer and deeper now, and this has a dramatic effect on the way patients respond to guidance and advice. The most rewarding thing about the role is seeing those transformations in people, and in their ability to manage their child's diabetes,” Mae continues.

Imperial College Healthcare Charity raises funds for the five London hospitals of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in West and North-West London. The charity funds clinical research and healthcare projects such as the one led by Mae Said, with the aim of giving patients the best care possible.