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National care award winner calls for better emotional support for people with diabetes

A young woman with Type 1 diabetes has been presented this year’s Quality in Care (QiC) Diabetes People’s Award for an online initiative she developed to offer emotional support for people with the condition.

Zoe Scott was inspired to develop an online community raising awareness of the psychological side of living with diabetes after overcoming her own struggles learning to live with the condition.

Hedgie Pricks Diabetes

Hedgie Pricks Diabetes was launched in May 2011, initially on Facebook and then as a website in its own right, as a response to Zoe’s experience growing up with Type 1 diabetes and having a local diabetes team who were unable to offer the emotional support she needed when she experienced anxiety and depression as a teenager.

Now 21, Zoe oversees the efforts of Hedgie Pricks Diabetes in giving a voice to people who have shared her experience, and making sure healthcare professionals working in diabetes care fully understand the emotional and psychosocial impact of living with diabetes.

"I am very proud to be recognised with this award"

Zoe, who is based in Chelmsford, said, "When you work full time and have to do the whole project around your job, it can be very stressful and it can make you wonder if it is always worth it. However, the feedback I have received from people and being awarded helps me to continue to make this project happen, to make diabetes teams look after their patients’ emotional wellbeing as well as general diabetes care.

"I am very proud to be recognised with this award, it will help me ensure that I will continue to work hard to make sure no one suffers in silence any longer, and those who feel they can’t talk about how they feel, can have their voices heard.”

It is estimated that psychological conditions, such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders, occur in about 41 per cent of people with diabetes, with poor emotional wellbeing linked to poor glycaemic control and an increased risk of developing diabetes-related complications. However, the provision of psychological treatment and support has been found to reduce this distress and improve health related outcomes.

"Truly inspiring"

Simon O’Neill, Director of Health Intelligence and Professional Liaison at Diabetes UK, said, "Zoe’s determination to make sure people with diabetes get the emotional care they need is truly inspiring.

"Emotional and psychological support needs to become accepted as a routine part of diabetes management, and this is one of the 15 healthcare essentials that we are calling for. It is the passion and commitment of people like Zoe that help to highlight the importance of expert psychological care from professionals with specialist diabetes experience."

Awards ceremony

The awards ceremony for QiC Diabetes 2012 was held at Sanofi’s headquarters in Guildford on Thursday October 18. The programme is in its second year, and has been developed by PMGroup with support from NHS Diabetes, Diabetes UK, Sanofi and the Young Diabetologists Forum.

There are 14 categories in total, including the People’s Award, each representing a different key area of care in diabetes.

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