Primary care providers, healthcare specialists, mental health professionals, friends, family— there are a lot of people who play at least a small role in managing your health.
But the most essential influence on your overall well-being is you.
Every day, you’re in charge of making critical decisions about your health, including what to eat, when to exercise, and how to manage stress. These choices are the building blocks of wellness for everyone.
If you have diabetes, these decisions are even more critical.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that requires ongoing maintenance. Because your body doesn’t produce or properly use insulin — which you need to convert food into energy — you have to stay on top of things like healthy eating, exercising, and taking medications.
Fortunately, you’re not alone on this journey. At Chester County Hospital, the Diabetes Self-Management Program is here to educate and support you so you can enjoy a long and active life.
One of the most important aspects of managing your diabetes is education. Maureen Boccella, MS, RD, CDCES, LDN, Manager of Nutrition and Diabetes Services with Penn Medicine at Chester County Hospital, has dedicated her career to ensuring patients with diabetes have access to all the information they need.
“We want to help people learn how to manage their diabetes and prevent complications or halt complications that have already developed,” she explains.
Here’s a look at the CCH Diabetes program, including how it helps patients take charge of their own health and manage their diabetes.
CCH’s Diabetes Self-Management Program
Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes or you’ve been living with diabetes for some time, a diabetes diagnosis can be overwhelming. You might have questions about your diet, medications, exercise, or all of the above.
The goal of the Diabetes Self-Management Program is to meet you where you are. Under the guidance of knowledgeable and caring team members, you can learn how to best manage your individual diabetes diagnosis.
For instance, what you eat can have a significant impact on your diabetes. Unfortunately, many diabetes patients are left thinking they can’t eat certain foods — when that’s not always the case.
“The meal plan opens up patients’ worlds. Everybody comes to us and says, ‘I’m not allowed to eat anything white. I’m not allowed to eat out.’ We’re like, ‘No, you can do these things, but there’s a way that you can do it that’s safer and helps you manage diabetes,’” explains Maureen.
The Diabetes Self-Management Program actually encourages eating more varieties of foods — but focusing on foods that are nutrient-dense and not calorie-dense. For instance, raw fruits, raw veggies, and whole grains are all great options for patients with diabetes.
Of course, diabetes management involves more than your diet. That’s where the 4-week educational course called Diabetes Basics comes in, offering education on diabetes management principles including:
- Healthy eating
- Healthy coping
- Taking medication
- Problem solving
- Reducing risks
If you have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes and require multiple daily injections or are on an insulin pump, there’s also a 4-week educational program made with you in mind. It’s called Intensive Insulin Management, and it guides you through everything from minimizing high and low blood sugar readings to matching insulin to food intake.
Promoting Confidence in Your Diabetes Self-Management
Diabetes education does so much more than help you make healthy choices — it helps you feel confident in doing so.
“We’ve had some patients that just feel so bad about everything — they’re embarrassed. It’s like they can’t get out of their own way,” explains Maureen. “When patients blame themselves, it keeps them from acting.”
The Diabetes Self-Management program helps you understand your diabetes diagnosis and how to best manage it. That way, you can be confident you’re putting your best effort into reducing risks and staying healthy every day.
Diabetes Management as a Journey
While your time in the Diabetes Basics course may come to an end — or as CCH refers to it, “graduation” — diabetes management is never over.
That’s why the Diabetes Self-Management Program is designed to last, supporting you as you continue to live your life with diabetes. In many cases, that means coming in just once a year.
“It’s like Jiffy Lube. You come in, you get your oil changed, you get a tune-up, and you make sure that you’re okay,” says Maureen. “We encourage patients to come back in and work with us, especially for nutrition.”
In addition to continuing your education about diabetes, it can be helpful to connect with other diabetes patients. The CCH Diabetes Support Group is a great way for you and your loved ones to share your experiences, learn tips from other diabetes patients, and encourage one another to live healthy lives.
A Team Approach — with You at the Center
The Diabetes Self-Management Program is a team effort, and it includes the support of primary care providers, registered dietitians, nurse practitioners, endocrinologists, and pharmacists.
But at the heart of that effort is you.
“We get results because people are working with us. We’re all working together,” says Maureen. “The reality is, our patients do a great job — and they help our program look good.”
According to Maureen, being an active participant in the program is key. The more you put into it, the more it’s going to give back. And while you remain the center of the team, you can rely on the support and guidance of the professionals at Chester County Hospital along the way.
Are you interested in how the Diabetes Self-Management Program can help you manage your diabetes? Call 610-738-2835 to learn more.