Educational strategies for type 1 diabetes management
We have been issued with the challenge of delivering structured education to our children and families, with much guidance on the standards we should be aiming to achieve. However translating that into effective educational packages that can be delivered by all centres is challenging, especially when operating within the constraints of staff resources, the need to deliver a clinical service and the lack of teacher training opportunities for paediatric teams.
Education must aim to provide children and families with the knowledge and skills to manage their diabetes but also must address issues around family functioning, motivation and adherence. Some packages currently being tested (e.g. the FACTS and CASCADE studies) address both these components whereas others such as KICk-OFF are specifically designed to look at knowledge and skills. Packages for education at diagnosis will be significantly different from those providing on going education.
Effective teaching requires the knowledge of how children learn and an understanding of their preferred learning environment. Changes in physical and psycho-social development influence this and a variety of packages will be required for different age groups. The educator must develop the skills to transform the knowledge they possess into suitable tasks, which lead to learning within an agreed framework. Identifying measurable outcomes that can lead to evaluation and further adaptation of the package is essential.
So, a number of questions arise:-
Should we have an agreed UK core curriculum for Type 1 diabetes education in children?
How do we produce effective educational packages that can be disseminated and shared?
How do we obtain the staff resources for effective education to be delivered?
Should we be employing skilled diabetes educators, who could co-ordinate and help deliver education across networks?
Much excellent and innovative education is already delivered throughout the UK and it is essential we share resources and experiences. One forum for this is the newly established paediatric subgroup of the Diabetes Education Network www.diabetes-education.net.