Your healthcare team Managing diabetes is easier with the support of a diabetes healthcare team. A range of professionals will help you learn everything you need to know about diabetes, its treatment and your self-management. How can a healthcare team help you? Your diabetes healthcare team can provide you with ongoing support to manage your diabetes. They can Regularly monitor different parts of your body that can be affected by diabetes, such as your heart, eyes, feet and kidneys. This is called your annual cycle of care. Explain the different diabetes management options to you and your family. Help you set goals and action plans for your self-management. Work together with you to overcome barriers to your self-management. Provide referrals and prescriptions. Keeping your healthcare team informed of any changes to your diabetes management or general health will help them provide you the best advice, treatment options and support. Where can you find a health professional? Get a referral from your GP or another health professional, or ask a family member, friend or colleague for a recommendation. Check out the relevant professional body website of the specialist you need (see below). Who should you have in your diabetes healthcare team? Aside from health professionals, your family and friends are important to have in your team. They can provide day-to-day support and assistance in managing your emotional and physical health, and help to provide you with motivation for diabetes self-management. But the most important member of the team is you. Keeping yourself informed about diabetes can help you make the best decisions about your daily self-care. The following health professionals are just some of the experts who can support and guide you and your family. Family doctor/General Practitioner (GP) Your GP is your primary carer and plays a central role in assessing and monitoring your health. They can complete your diabetes cycle of care to help in managing your diabetes and reduce your risk of diabetes-related complications. Your GP can address any of your health concerns and prescribe your medicines. They can refer you to other health services, including the health professionals listed below. Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE) A Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE) can provide diabetes-specific information and advice to help you stay in the best possible health, including: Explaining what happens in the body when you have diabetes, how your medications work, what affects your blood glucose levels. Teaching you how to monitor your blood glucose levels or inject non-insulin injectable medications or insulin, if required. Helping you with high tech items including starting you on a continuous glucose monitor or insulin pump. Writing a sick day management plan for you and explaining your target blood glucose levels, in consultation with your doctor. How to find one: Ask your GP to refer you to a CDE in your area. You can also check your local hospital, diabetes centre or community health centres. Or find a CDE on the Australian Diabetes Educators Association website. Accredited Practising Dietitian Having the right nutrition is important to managing your diabetes. An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can help you achieve optimal health by: Offering practical and personalised advice on healthy eating for diabetes that also takes into account any other medical conditions you may have. Helping you set weight goals if you want to lose weight and work through barriers to follow a life-long eating plan. Working with you to develop a personalised healthy eating plan. Teaching you how to read food labels, count carbohydrates, if required, modify recipes and change the way you order at restaurants. How to find one: Ask your GP to refer you to a local APD or find an APD on the Dietitians Australia website or call on 1800 812 942. There may also be a practitioner at your local hospital, diabetes centre or community health centre for you to talk to. Endocrinologist An endocrinologist is a medical specialist who treats a range of conditions that are caused by problems with hormones, including diabetes. An endocrinologist can provide expert advice on development of your diabetes management plan. You can see an endocrinologist with a referral from your GP. Pharmacist A pharmacist at your local NDSS Access Point can give advice on your diabetes medications, how to maximise their benefit, and manage their effects. Together with your doctor, a pharmacist can conduct a Home Medication Review with you. This service is subsidised under Medicare. Podiatrist Diabetes can increase the risk of nerve and blood vessel damage to the feet. Regular checks by a podiatrist can determine your risk of developing foot damage and help prevent serious complications. A podiatrist can also advise the best shoes for your feet and how to care for your feet. How to find one: Contact the Australian Podiatry Association. Counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker Psychological support is just as important as physical help. Feeling stressed can affect your diabetes and general health and wellbeing. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s best to talk to a counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker. How to find one: Contact them directly or get a referral from your GP or community or youth health centre. To see a psychiatrist, you need a referral from your GP. Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) or physiotherapist An Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) can help you determine the appropriate exercise and activity plan for you, suited to your health conditions, current abilities, needs and lifestyle. They will help improve your balance, cardiovascular fitness, and/or muscle strength. A physiotherapist can diagnose and treat a range of conditions including muscle strains and injuries, incontinence, help with rehabilitation, and manage movement so you are able to function as normally as possible. How to find one: Ask your doctor for a referral or contact the Australian Association for Exercise and Sports Science or the Australian Physiotherapy Association. Optometrist or ophthalmologist Regular visits to an optometrist for a comprehensive vision eye examination will help to ensure the health of your eyes if you are living with diabetes. Most diabetes-related eye diseases do not show symptoms early. If left untreated, they can cause vision impairment or blindness. You do not need to have glasses to see an optometrist for a diabetes eye examination. If you have serious eye issues your optometrist will let your GP know and your GP will refer you to a specialist eye doctor, an ophthalmologist. How to find one: Visit Good vision for life to find an optometrist near you. Your GP can also refer you to a local ophthalmologist if you need one. Dentist A dentist who knows you have diabetes should regularly review your teeth and gums. There are a few reasons why this is important: Increased levels of glucose in the saliva can raise the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Impaired gum circulation can prevent gums from healing when there’s injury or trauma. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health worker An Aboriginal health worker can help you with culturally appropriate information. Check with your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Service. Diabetes centres Diabetes centres can give you specialised advice. You can find them in public hospitals, certain private hospitals and some community health centres. Your doctor can arrange a referral to a diabetes centre near you. Some eligibility criteria may apply. How to get a rebate on costs Medicare provides a rebate on GP and specialist’s fees. With a chronic condition like diabetes you are eligible for five visits to allied health professionals under a chronic disease management care plan each calendar year. These may include a dietitian, diabetes educator, podiatrist, exercise physiologist, or physiotherapist. Allied health professionals may bulk bill under Medicare or charge a gap fee, you will have to check with each health professional. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Gold Card holders with a chronic condition are eligible for free treatment provided by an allied health professional (CDE, APD, exercise physiologist, podiatrist), optometrist, dentist, GP, and specialist who are registered with the DVA. There may be some out of pocket costs for high cost dental Items. Ask your GP for a referral to the right health professional for your circumstances. Depending on the type of cover you have, you may also receive a rebate from your private health insurer.