Innovative Diabetes Technology Enhances Patient Care

13th June 2023
Helen McKay and Advanced Nurse Practitioner, William Mundy

The advancement in Diabetes technology is providing real benefits to local patient Helen McKay who has lived with Type 1 Diabetes for the past 45 years.

Helen, who lives in Bangor, has been using a new insulin pump ‘Omnipod Dash’ since the start of 2023 and explained how she is now able to manage her symptoms providing her with more independence in her daily life.  The pump sits on top of the skin and is controlled with a Personal Diabetes Manager device.  Helen also uses a Libre sensor placed on the top of her arm which provides information on her glucose levels that is transmitted to an app on her phone.

Describing the benefits of the new technology, Helen explained, “Being able to discreetly scan the sensor with my mobile phone gives me reassurance with my blood sugar levels, which is very important. This equipment has reduced the stress and discomfort associated with having to inject myself so regularly.”

When Helen was diagnosed with Diabetes at 11 years old, she found it to be a scary experience, but also quite interesting.  Reflecting on her Diabetes journey, Helen said, “Back in the early days before the use of blood tests (to measure glucose levels in the blood) there wasn’t any type of blood sugar checks, so I had to do a urine check. I would test a sample of my urine with a tablet in a test tube which would then turn a certain colour to indicate what my blood sugar levels were. I then had a blood glucose meter where I had to do a finger prick and the meter indicated my blood sugar levels.”

Consultant Physician, Paul McMullan commented, “Individuals living with Diabetes greatly benefit from the advancements in Diabetes technology, including glucose sensors, insulin pumps, connected insulin pens, and app technologies.

“However it is important to note that it is not about managing numbers, it’s about empowering those patients to take control of their health and live their lives to the fullest.”

Educational resources are readily available to those living with Diabetes. Advanced Nurse Practitioner, William Munday explains, “The Bertie Course (Bournemouth Type 1 Diabetes Education Programme) is a Type 1 educational program available and it teaches patients about how to adjust the insulin based on the amount of carbohydrates they eat, this is something that they wouldn’t have done previously, but now we are offering to all young people and adolescents.”

Helen completed the Bertie course and is encouraging others to consider attending.  She added, “Education is so wonderful, it was great coming together with others who have Type 1 Diabetes and we were able to learn a lot from each other and to share our experiences during the course.”

Giving advice to someone who has been diagnosed with Diabetes Helen said, “Don’t be afraid, I used to hate anyone knowing I had Diabetes, but I am now really proud to wear my insulin pump and Libre sensor. I would just embrace it and have a healthy way of life and watch what you eat.

“The Diabetes Team here in the Ulster Hospital are just phenomenal and the progress with Diabetes management that I have witnessed over the past 45 years has been incredible. It really is so life-changing for me with the development of technology over the years, it has definitely given me more control with my Diabetes and has made such a huge difference to my life.”