The OzDAFNE program can help
OzDAFNE is a group program for adults living with type 1 diabetes. DAFNE stands for D
The program empowers people living with type 1 diabetes to gain control of their diabetes by teaching them how to work out how much insulin they need for the amount of carbohydrates they have eaten. The program also provides advice about aspects of living with type 1 diabetes such as how to manage exercise, illness and hypoglycaemia.
Eileen Collins is passionate about the OzDAFNE program which she coordinates at Diabetes Victoria. As well as formerly working as a registered nurse and midwife, Eileen brings to the role almost 30 years’ experience as a diabetes educator. Read on to learn more...Q&A with Eileen Collins, OzDAFNE Co-ordinatorQ: What can I expect from the OzDAFNE program?
A: Participants will gain the skills to calculate how much insulin they need for the amount of carbohydrate in the foods they eat.
The judgement-free and supportive program is facilitated by a diabetes nurse educator and accredited practicing dietitian who work closely with each individual participant to understand the foods they like to eat, their exercise habits and lifestyles to teach them how to better manage their diabetes and experience more freedom through insulin adjustment and carbohydrate counting.Q: How long does the program run for?
A: OzDAFNE is a five-day program and can be undertaken over five consecutive days or one day a week, over five weeks. Q: How many people participate in the program?
A: Groups are small with a maximum of 6–8 participants who are all living with type 1 diabetes.Q: Is the OzDAFNE program open to all ages?
A: The OzDAFNE program is suitable for adults, 18 years or older, living with type 1 diabetes. We welcome people who have had diabetes for a short time as well as people who have lived with type 1 diabetes for many years who want to gain more control of their diabetes.Q: What are some of the activities you do in the program?
A: One of the first lessons involves going back to the basics of diabetes management – how does your insulin work? – and when to check your blood glucose levels. You will also learn how to look for patterns in your blood glucose levels.
We teach participants how to accurately count carbohydrates in foods they actually eat on an everyday basis and everyone gets plenty of practice in counting carbohydrates with the helpful guidance of our facilitators.
The program is centred around the participants’ lifestyle. Participants learn how to make insulin adjustments based on the different activities they do. For example, learning how to manage their blood glucose levels while having dinner with friends or while playing sport on the weekends.
During the program, we go out for lunch as a group and we teach the group how to accurately count carbohydrates while eating out. We also go on a group walk which is suited to all levels of fitness. This enables participants to learn how exercise affects their blood glucose levels and how to make adjustments accordingly.Q: Some people may be concerned that they will be judged on how they manage their diabetes - how do you respond to this?
A: When people first contact us, they are often experiencing a high level of stress because of their diabetes. They are fed up and want change and are tired of feeling judged.
The OzDAFNE program is free of judgement and finger wagging. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why the program has been so successful. The program is not about changing your lifestyle, but rather learning to adjust your insulin and accurately count carbohydrates so you can experience more freedom. Our facilitators provide all the information and tools to help you make your own choices and gain more control of your diabetes.
Another wonderful aspect of OzDAFNE is the support our participants receive from each other. People of all ages and walks of life attend OzDAFNE so the wealth of experience and knowledge in the room is incredible. We recently had a young man attend the program who found a lot of support and strength from speaking to other participants who had been living with type 1 for 30 to 40 years.
Similarly, two participants who were around the same age and had lived with diabetes for the same amount of time really bonded over their shared experiences.Q: How can people working full-time attend the program?
A: The five-day program runs from 9am to 5pm every day. You will need to attend all five days of the program. You may need to take time off work, study or other commitments. We can provide you with a letter to give to your employer that explains the OzDAFNE program and its benefits for your health. This may help you get time off work to attend the program.Q: Who is eligible to attend the OzDAFNE program?
A: Visit dafne.org.au/what-is-involved
to find out more.Q: How has the OzDAFNE program helped past participants with their diabetes management?
A: Research on the OzDAFNE program has shown that the program:
- Reduces HbA1c levels if above target
- Reduces admissions to hospital by 50%
- Reduces severe hypos by 50%.
Overall, our participants say that the greatest benefit of completing the program is how much it has improved the quality of their life. Many past participants comment that OzDAFNE was the best thing they have ever done for their diabetes management. You can view our participant feedback at: dafne.org.au/feedback-from-participantsTo discover more about OzDAFNE, please visit: dafne.org.au