Diabetes type 1

What makes a good consultation with the care team?

Diabetes care teams can be vitally important in helping young people understand more about their diabetes and how it needs to be treated. Diabetes care teams try to do more than just prescribe treatment - they also guide and advise young people about living their lives as fully as any other young person. Some young people said they'd had fantastic care and support from their diabetes care teams and felt they had worked really well together. 

Young people talked to us about diabetes care consultations and about what they found worked for them. Generally they liked doctors and nurses who talked to them (rather than their parents). They also appreciated being treated with respect and having their opinions listened to by the team, which made them feel included in decisions that were made about balancing their treatment and their lives. 

Equally important as far as many young people are concerned is seeing the same medical staff each time they attend a clinic. Getting to know the team and building up a good open relationship with them helped young people feel they were getting the kind of individualised care that many said they wanted and could trust. When young people went to clinics and had to see different consultants, they said they felt confused particularly if the new doctor gave them different advice for the same issue. 

Seeing different doctors at their clinics meant that they were given advice that wasn't as useful as advice from doctors who knew them well. 

Seeing different doctors at clinic could also seem like a waste of the young person's time if the new doctors asked questions they had already answered before at previous clinics. Several young people said they disliked going to appointments and finding the clinic was too busy and where they ended up seeing whoever was available that day. 

Having contact numbers for someone who was part of the team and knowing that they could always reach an expert at any time of day or night, was said to help them feel more secure. Everyone we met said that they wished they could contact a nurse from the diabetic team outside the usual hours.

Everyone we talked to said that if they had a specific problem or question for the care team the response was usually very helpful. But they also said that because everyone is different and so tends to react differently to diets and treatments, they didn't find general advice helpful and wanted it to be tailored to their individual needs. 

Most young people said that they found it helpful that their consultants used 'normal' language without medical jargon and could explain things in ways they understood. A few remembered their consultants had gone to great lengths to make sure they understood and had sometimes drawn pictures and provided them with more information. Young people valued consultations where they felt able to ask questions and go back over things if they needed to. (See also 'Information about diabetes'.)

Not everyone was satisfied though - one young man said that the consultants he knew tended to assume that everyone has the same level of knowledge they have. Sometimes young people found some diabetes literature difficult to understand.

Most young people were attracted by friendliness and sense of humour among staff in the clinic, and many said that nurses and dieticians were approachable and tended to be more informal than the doctors - though this was not everyone's experience of doctors. Nurses who were straight talking without being bossy were liked by some young people more than those who seemed too soft.

Not many young people we met had access to a GP who specialised in diabetes, but several who did said that they valued the relationship with GP especially if they had known them for most of their lives. One young woman said that her GP had provided her with the best care possible because she had a gentle persuasive approach and worked with her.

Last reviewed November 2014.

Last updated April 2012.

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