Supported self-management (Nov 2009)

'Improving supported self-management for people with diabetes'

November 2009

There are over two and a half million people in the UK with diabetes. By 2025 it is estimated that this number will rise to over four million.

While this statistic is concerning for the simple reason that more people will be living with diabetes, it also has huge implications for the levels of care, services and support that will need to be provided in order for those people to live with and manage their diabetes.

Because living with diabetes is just that. People with diabetes only have contact with a healthcare professional for a few hours per year. The rest of the time they care for and manage their diabetes themselves. It is estimated that 95 per cent of diabetes management is self-management.

Self-management means that people have to make choices and decisions about how to manage their life and their diabetes. Through good self-management, people with diabetes can improve their quality of life and reduce the risk of developing complications. It can also help to prevent hospital admissions, or make those times when they do need to go into hospital, for whatever reason, a better experience, with a reduced length of stay.

To enable people to self-manage well requires support. What type of support people need will vary depending on how they are managing or whether they feel the need to access that support. The important thing is that the support is there.

In this document we look at what we consider are the essential components that make up good supported self-management. While there are many things that enable people to self-manage, we have outlined what should be provided at the very least. Whether this is good quality information for someone who has been recently diagnosed, or the knowledge that someone is on the other end of a telephone to offer advice for someone with established diabetes, it is vital that people are able to manage their lives with diabetes, rather than because of it.