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"Sometimes just being able to talk through some of the issues we're facing can make a real difference."

Jeanagh Punter has Type 2 diabetes and gives up her spare time to help improve the care and education of local people living with diabetes.

Getting the15 healthcare essential checkscan save complications arising, those reassuring words on a support page may help someone adapt to living with diabetes and that extra information in the GP practice can help manage, control and even prevent diabetes.

Jeanagh

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Education courses weren't around when Jeanagh was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes - but she's a big fan of them.

"When I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes around 25 years ago I wasn’t given any information. It seemed no-one knew very much about the condition. 

I had just one appointment with a dietician, who told me “eat plenty of fruit and vegetables”, and that was it.  Even when being put onto five insulin injections a day, I had no help or education whatsoever.

Over the years my control was not very good and I started to develop eye problems, which have led to numerous operations and procedures.

Speaking to people online about diabetes really helped me adjust to living with the condition, which is why I have set up a local peer support community group on social media. Sometimes just being able to talk through some of the issues we’re facing can make a real difference.

I think everyone living with diabetes needs help and guidance, especially when first diagnosed, however, with the proper education and support, you can manage your own condition successfully. That’s why one of the campaigns I’ feel strongly about is theTaking Control campaignto make sure everyone has the chance to understand their diabetes better. 

I got involved in campaigning gradually. I signed up as aDiabetes Voicea few years ago, but as I'm retired I am able to commit a lot more time. 

After joining my GP practice’s Patient Participation Group, I started receiving notices about the local Clinical Commissioning Group meetings. I went along and asked questions about diabetes. As a result, I got invited to an NHS England meeting hosted by Diabetes UK about improving diabetes care in the UK.

Through these meetings, I was contacted by the person in charge of diabetes care in our local CCG, and we had meetings where I was able to give her information and some of the brochures and leaflets produced by Diabetes UK, and point her to their web site with all the up-to-date information.

I have since become the lead volunteer for Diabetes UK's new community group,Cannock Chase Diabetes Support Group on Facebookwhich has the full approval of the local Clinical Commissioning Group and the town's GP practices.

If you live in the area of Staffordshire, please feel free to join theCannock Chase Diabetes Support Group on Facebook.

How I help improve diabetes care locally:

  • Get involved in proposals for improving the education and care for local people with diabetes.
  • Make sure patients with diabetes at GP surgeries in my town get theannual checksand support that should be offered to them.
  • Work on reports with my local Healthwatch group.
  • I am Involved in NHS Citizen - a new project which gives people using the NHS the chance to talk about what matters to them (there’s lots of online and offline activity you can get involved in.)

As a member of my GP’s Patient Participation Group for two years, I know it is possible to make a difference. With NHS resources stretched as they are, those in charge really appreciate getting the thoughts of people actually using the service. We’re the ones who know what’s working and what isn’t.

Every GP Practice in England should now have a Patient Participation Group and I’d recommend anyone with an interest in improving local diabetes care to think about joining. People start to recognise your face. Once people realise you are someone with an inside knowledge of diabetes care and a desire to help the health service, you are a pretty valuable asset!

A lot of the changes you see may seem small at first. Getting the15 healthcare essentials checkscan save complications arising, those reassuring words on a support page may help someone adapt to living with diabetes and that extra information in the GP practice can help manage, control and sometimes even prevent diabetes."

Support in your area

For more information on Jeanagh's group and support for people living with diabetes in the Midlands, please email Diabetes UK Midlands at midlands@diabetes.org.uk

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