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What is self-management?

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Key fact:
Studies have shown that people who know more about diabetes have better control of their blood glucose levels and develop fewer complications.

You are the most important part of your diabetes team

Your diabetes team spends up to 3 hours per year managing your diabetes.

You spend 8760 hours every year living with your diabetes.

The decisions you make have a much bigger impact on your diabetes care than those made by your diabetes team.

What can I do?

Self-management involves taking responsibility for your own health and having an active role in managing your treatment. For most people with diabetes, self-management means three things:

1. Looking after your health and managing your diabetes.

  • Looking after yourself includes things like taking your medication every day and having regular check-ups. 

2. Making changes in your life

3. Dealing with any negative emotions

  • Managing negative feelings, may be an issue when living with diabetes. Common problems are anger, fear, frustration or depression.  

If you take the time to find out about diabetes and get explanations that make sense to you, it becomes much easier to understand what you need to do. You'll see how to improve your health and work out the right way to solve any problems you encounter.

What skills do I need?

To look after yourself well you will need to develop the ability to:

How can I share decisions?

Before appointments, write a list of the things you want to talk to your healthcare team about.

If your doctor or nurse tells you what to do without asking your opinion or understanding what is important to you, you are more likely to go home and ignore what you were told.

This is common, but it can leave both you and your diabetes team feeling frustrated, and it can damage your health.

If you and your diabetes team share decisions and develop joint solutions, you are more likely to create a plan that fits your life and improves your health. Both you and your diabetes team will feel happier this way and your health is likely to improve.

Appointments with your diabetes team usually last around 15 minutes. It might feel like there is not enough time to have a proper discussion, but the right preparation really helps.

The day before your appointment:

  • Write a list of the things you want to talk about. Our care planning tool will help you prepare for your review.
  • Look at your latest results and see if they are getting better or worse. Think about why this is happening. See or log your test results.
  • Learn as much as you can about type 2 diabetes and any medicines you might be taking.

If there are specific things you want to talk about, it is really important that you let the health professional know as soon as possible. If you have written things down, give that list to the health professional at the start of the meeting.

There will also be things your doctor, nurse or podiatrist will need to do as well, so find out what they need to talk about. It might not be possible to cover everything in one meeting, so negotiate which things you will talk about in this meeting and make a plan about how and when you will deal with the rest.

What is an expert patient?

From the moment you are diagnosed with diabetes, you become an expert in one particular area of diabetes - how diabetes affects your life. No one will understand that as well as you do.

Over time, some patients gain experience and skills in many areas of diabetes and can become as knowledgeable as the doctors and nurses who look after them. When you reach that stage you become an expert patient.

Expert patients take on most of the responsibility of managing their diabetes. They are often keen to share their knowledge and experience with others and learn about the latest research.

If you are an expert patient, you might be interested in sharing your ideas with other people on our forum or in reading our research section.

Learning to self-manage

This 3-minute video will help you understand the most important aspects of looking after your diabetes. 
To play this video you will need audio and you may need the Flash plug-in. To watch it full screen, click the expand button Expand  at the bottom right of the video.

Learning to self-manage