Diabetes Helpline vs Diabetes Educator

What is the Helpline?

The National Diabetes Helpline is a free service provided by the National Diabetes Services Scheme. Diabetes NSW & ACT health professionals manage calls to the helpline from people who live in NSW and the ACT.

If you are ringing to ask a question such as:

  • What is diabetes?
  • How do I find a health professional?
  • What blood glucose ranges should I be targeting?
  • What are low glycaemic foods?
  • How do I find out what group educations programs are available?

The Helpline, is staffed by accredited health professionals; they can provide you with information but as they don’t have access to your personal records or a referral from your GP they can’t offer personal consultations.

If your question involves personal information like your insulin doses, or a rash you may have on your foot then you will need to contact your own doctor or health care team.

Information and support provided by NDSS Helpline

  • Advocacy: If you have experienced discrimination at work, school or other settings due to your diabetes
  • Non-permanent residents: The Helpline offers advice on accessing diabetes supplies without a NDSS number or Medicare card
  • Travelling: General travel information, tips on airports and transporting insulin, wearing a CGM and pump while  going through security
  • Insulin: Tips and advice on storing insulin and basic insulin injecting techniques
  • Food: Where to find more information on eating for diabetes or gluten-free diets
  • Pumps: Providing advice on current insulin pumps available in Australia and the process to accessing pumps
  • Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) advice: Information in regards to the current CGM and flash glucose monitoring subsidies available in Australia and who is eligible
  • Driving: Information in regards to driver’s licenses and what you need to do to maintain your licence once diagnosed with diabetes. Advice for teenagers with type 1 diabetes applying for a drivers licence.

What is a Credentialled Diabetes Educator?

A certified diabetes educator (CDE) can be a nurse, dietitian, pharmacist, exercise physiologist, physiotherapist, podiatrist or social worker who has completed further university training and completed the credentialing program.

They will work with you one-on-one or in a group setting to help you:

  • Improve your HbA1C
  • Prevent diabetes complications or slow their progression
  • Improve your eating and exercise habits
  • Gain more confidence in self-managing your diabetes
  • How to manage stress related to living with diabetes
  • Understand your specific medications and any side effects.

When to see a CDE?

Once diagnosed with diabetes there is only a limited amount of support the Helpline can provide before you need to find your personalised diabetes team. A CDE is a good starting point. They are then able to recommend which other health professionals you should also see to individualise your diabetes management.

  • At diagnosis. This is an essential time to obtain the basic skills and knowledge to manage your diabetes and stay physically and emotionally healthy
  • Annually. Diabetes changes over time and so do your needs. Once a year, it’s important to brush up on skills and knowledge, learn about new management tools, and go over any struggles
  • After major changes in your life. Changes in your physical or mental health, financial state, or relationships may call for tweaks to your management plan and extra support from an educator
  • When your medical care changes. An educator can help support and guide you through transitions such as seeing a new doctor, dealing with different insurance coverage, adding or changing medications, or adjusting to a new living situation. Consider seeing a CDE when you start or change injectable medications.

If unsure, always call The National Diabetes Helpline on 1300 342 238 and they will provide advice and if necessary, guide you to contact your local CDE.

By Polly Antees APD CDE

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