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Young people's diabetes event

An event aimed at young people with diabetes, and their parents, is being held by hospital teams in Reading to help youngsters deal with the disease as they hit their teens and beyond.

The event is aimed at capturing a time just before young people leave school, move to college, 6th form or university or enter the world of work. And also a time when they are looking forward to a summer of festivals, frolics and fun!

Specialist diabetes nurses and doctors have recognised these major life changing events can be a challenge for young people trying to manage their diabetes. Moving away from home, changing from a school to work routine and mixing with new people can sometimes make coping with diabetes even more daunting, especially if parents aren’t close by keeping an eye on things like blood glucose level checks, carbohydrate counting, insulin injections/pumps and hypo episodes.

The information event has been organised by the Royal Berkshire Hospital’s Specialist Diabetes Children and Young People’s Nurses and will feature sessions covering sexual health, alcohol, diet and talks from a psychologist.

Three parents who have teenagers with Type 1 diabetes will talk about the way they, and their children, have lived with T1D as they leave their teens and enter their early 20s.

There will also be young people who have made the move to university telling their stories and passing on top tips for handling diabetes away from home and adult supervision.

Boikie Osupeng, Young People Diabetes Specialist at the RBH said: “When our patients approach 15 years old we focus our work on empowering them and preparing them for the time when they are moving away from home. Part of this for some young people involves the opportunity to attend events like festivals or holidays with friends where there is a higher likelihood of coming into contact with alcohol and drugs.

 “So, at our event on the 9 July, whilst the young people are listening to their contemporaries, their parents will be hearing from other parents about the challenges of supporting teenagers with diabetes and dealing with the way this can affect their behaviour towards their diabetes,” Boikie added.

Justine Rigby’s 18 year old daughter Evie is preparing for university. Justine said: “Having Type 1 diabetes and looking after it properly is not always easy, especially as a teenager, when there are so many other obstacles for them to face.

“My daughter has had her struggles but with the support of Boikie and the paediatric team at RBH she has built resilience and strength in living with and managing her diabetes. Being a parent of a diabetic child who is going to university is scary but I feel that Evie is prepared and ready for this next chapter in her life. We could not have achieved this without the support of the diabetic team and we cannot thank them enough.” 

Junior Diabetes Research Foundation will also be at the event updating people on the latest technology advances around the treatment and management of diabetes in young people.

Student Hannah Wetten, said: “I was so excited and nervous to start university and having Type 1 diabetes only added to the nerves, but confidence is key! Talk to people you're living with to explain diabetes, equipment, and hypo/hyper signs, just to dispel any worries your friends may have. It's essential to find support and other diabetics if you can; I made my own T1diabetes support group, but you can check your Student Support department if they have any groups already.

“ Remember you're not on your own and there will be hundreds of other diabetic students, so don't be afraid to reach out! You might feel that you can be more unconcerned about diabetes now that you're living away from family, but it's still important to go to your appointments regularly and keep in touch with your uni medical centre, it makes life so much easier long-term! By keeping up good diabetes care, you can enjoy yourself more when drinking and going out without worrying; you will slip up and make mistakes when starting but that’s totally normal and part of becoming independent.”

The RBH event on July 9th is open to all young people with diabetes along with their parents. It runs from 1 – 3pm. To book a place, or for more information, please contact Boikie on boikie.osupeng@royalberkshire.nhs.uk 

If you need medical help and are unsure what to do, call NHS 111 for help and advice. They are available 24 hours a day.