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Peer-support group for people with diabetes launched

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Kennita Perry, a psychotherapist, counsellor and long-term diabetes patient, is facilitator of the peer-support group (Photograph supplied)

A peer-support group providing a safe, confidential space for people struggling with the daily challenges of diabetes has been launched.

The Bermuda Diabetes Association has enlisted Kennita Perry, a psychotherapist, counsellor and long-term diabetes patient, as facilitator of the programme.

Sara Bosch de Noya, a registered dietitian and diabetes educator for the Bermuda Diabetes Association, said: “The peer-support programme is new and is something that we have been talking about for some time.

“In diabetes associations around the world, and during the two years of conferences since the pandemic, there has been a lot of emphasis on peer-support programmes.

“There is a lot more recognition of the mental burden and there is a terminology recognised as diabetes distress, which contributes to burnout as a result of a person’s self-care. It can also happen if you are caring for a family member with diabetes.

“This programme is focusing on engaging people with diabetes in a positive way to connect with others, share stories and help overcome the obstacles of the mental burden of giving yourself the best care.

“People have access to education to understand what diabetes is, how to take medications, how to make healthy choices and do physical activity.

“The peer-support programme is an adjunct to clinical management. It makes people feel better and more connected in a group environment.

“We launched our Live Your Best Life campaign in December addressing the stigma that surrounds diabetes and putting a more positive spin on it. Diabetes support is critical to everybody with diabetes.”

Sara Bosch de Noya, diabetes educator at the Bermuda Diabetes Association (File photograph)

The first group assembled last Monday. Ms Bosch de Noya said one of the participants of the first session described the experience as “transformational”.

Participants must sign a form of consent and confidentiality in order to attend. It is primarily for those with a type 1 or 2 diabetes diagnosis.

Ms Perry is the Bermuda Diabetes Association’s ambassador for the Live Your Best Life campaign.

She has a deep connection with the association, which she credits for saving her life.

As a result of complications brought about by diabetes, she had high blood pressure that caused her arteries to collapse.

She had multiple strokes and had to undergo brain surgery, she lost her memory as a result and had to relearn what she knew.

She has lived with diabetes for more than 30 years and said she wished there was a peer-support programme to help her get through it.

She said: “I had to relearn of who I was but I am grateful for it happening. I found ways to find that balance. I am grateful every single day I wake up. I think, ‘I made another day; what can I do to make this world a better place?’ ”

Speaking of some of the common struggles experienced by those with diabetes, Ms Perry said: “Something that comes up a lot is being tired of having to monitor every single thing, every single day — the food, the medication …

“People get tired of taking insulin. If they attend a special occasion, they may feel guilty about their food choices.

“The peer-support group is about being mindful. What can we do as a group to help each other out?

“We can hold each other accountable. I have a kindness jar and people are able to write kind words, words of encouragement to anybody.

“It’s about creating meaningful and powerful moments because there are times you feel utterly alone.”

The programme, which is in its pilot phase, will run on the second and fourth Monday during April, May and June from 6pm to 7.30pm.

Participants are asked to register as light refreshments are served during the sessions.

For more information and to register, visit www.diabetes.bm

Bermuda Diabetes Association information on peer-support groups

Peer support for diabetes patients has been recognised as a valuable component of diabetes management. Numerous studies have explored the impact of peer-support programmes on various aspects of diabetes care.

These include:

• Improved glycemic control

• Psychosocial benefits

• Behavioural changes

• Knowledge and self-efficacy

• Reduction in hospital admissions

• Cultural relevance

• Technology-based peer support

• Long-term benefits

It’s important to recognise that the effectiveness of peer support can vary based on individual preferences, cultural factors and the structure of the support programme. Peer support is often considered a complementary approach alongside standard medical care, promoting a holistic and patient-centred approach to diabetes management.

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Published April 15, 2024 at 7:50 am (Updated April 14, 2024 at 6:33 pm)

Peer-support group for people with diabetes launched

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