In Ireland, Diabetes Specialist Nurse Helena Farrell is working tirelessly to help improve life for people with diabetes – and we spotted an immediate ally in her when we first met in 2010. Helena is one of those people who immediately ‘got’ the idea behind Timesulin and has remained a strong advocate ever since. Her passion and willingness to go that extra mile for the sake of her diabetes patients makes Helena an inspiration to all of us. Helena is the Founder of Diabetes Insight, a website forum for people with diabetes in Ireland and also works as the Director of Blackrock Hall Primary Care Centre in Cork.
World Diabetes Day gives me an opportunity to celebrate how far we have come in diabetes management. Patients are fascinated to know they have their own special day and why it falls on November 14th, Frederick Banting’s birthday. People tend to forget that diabetes has a past and it allows me to indulge on my other passion, which is history! It also allows me to reach people who do not have diabetes but may be at risk, making them more aware of getting screened for diabetes and highlighting what they can do to either prevent diabetes or delay the onset of developing the condition. This year where I work, we held a screening day for the public to highlight this very issue. Our thinking was that even if we detected only one person who may be at risk, it would have been a very worthwhile venture.
What do you think is the biggest problem that people with diabetes face?
In my opinion, in Ireland one of the biggest problems and challenges people with diabetes face is a right to basic, simple education and ongoing support to help them live practically on a day to day level with diabetes. Depending on geographical location and access to services, some people may not be able to access high quality, evidence based, and accurate education for months and in some cases, for years, often when it is too late. The impact of good education and support has at diagnosis cannot be underestimated, and meeting health care professionals who can provide this at the beginning of your diabetes journey is a basic right not a luxury.
What is your hope for all people living with diabetes?
A cure for diabetes would be the most obvious one!! I hope all people with diabetes would be seen as individuals, not as a condition or a disease. I hope people with diabetes would be treated with respect and be heard and understood. I hope all people with diabetes are given access to the basic right to education, knowledge and support that they deserve. I hope treatments for diabetes continue to improve so that we can offer more as health care professionals and help to avoid complications of living with diabetes. And I would absolutely love if someone could invent a non prick blood glucose monitor that is available to all people with diabetes that would provide accurate reliable results and put an end to the trauma of monitoring blood sugars!!!!!!