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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Sandra Tweddell - Service Champion

Sandra is helping shape the future of diabetes care. Here's her story so far:

Sandra Tweddell receiving her 2017 Inspire Award for Campaigning and Influencing
Sandra Tweddell receiving her 2017 Inspire Award for Campaigning and Influencing

"I have lived with Type 1 diabetes since 1961 and have seen many changes in diabetes care, from glass syringes to modern wearable technology, the progression in treatment and care has been impressive, but there is still a long way to go.

In my role as a Service Champion volunteer with Diabetes UK, I work to reduce the inequality of care for people with diabetes across the country.

A key part of achieving this goal is my current involvement with the Diabetes Digital Coach, one of seven test beds which is a joint programme between NHS England, the Office for Life Science, the Department of Health and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

We are working to shape, produce, test and evaluate a pioneering digital platform that can help people with long term conditions such as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, manage their conditions more effectively and stay well. For example, how can we use wearable sensors and supporting software to help people with diabetes to do the right thing at the right time to self-manage their condition and help health care professions to give timely and effective intervention?

Being part of the programme has challenged me as a person too and helped me gain media skills and grow in confidence. I’ve had to conquer my nerves to take a lead role in a film explaining about the project, I’ve spoken to national and local television and radio stations and given talks at conferences to promote the pioneering work we are doing.

I have been instrumental in establishing and coordinating a network of diabetes support groups in Bristol and lead the drop in group for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Our groups form a focus group to feedback on the progress of the digital project. Volunteering with the Diabetes Digital Coach team has been a great experience for us all, and their open and welcoming approach has made people with diabetes feel valued members of the project and we feel that we are helping to make a real difference in shaping the future of diabetes care."

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