• Fresh Views

    POSSIBILITIES: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    Take your mind off the problems for a moment, and focus on the positive possibilities. Consider how very much you are able to do.  ~ Ralph Marston

    Amidst the COVID-19 crisis our world is facing, and the accompanying anxiety and uncertainty,  we are trying to remind ourselves of the many things big and small that we are grateful for. And one of those is that tomorrow is the first day of spring! The change in seasons brings new beginnings and a fresh start. Buds pop open, as pictured on Deb’s peach tree above. And each of those new buds eventually brings beautiful juicy peaches. So with the arrival of spring, we are reminded that no matter what the situation today, there remain new possibilities for the future.

    We hope you find value and inspiration in our series focusing on words to jump-start solution-focused thinking and conversations. If you’re new to our blog, you can read more about our take on the power of word selection here. Last week’s word was “Strengths” – check out our perspective here.

    Today’s word is POSSIBILITIES

    In solution-focused talk, “possibilities” are interwoven with and build upon “strengths”, and what is working well. In theory, by doing “more” of what is “working”, there’s less time to dwell on things that are not going as well or as desired. Building upon strengths ultimately can create possibilities that you may not have even realized existed!

    In a survey we conducted last year, we asked individuals living with diabetes about their experiences with diabetes education services. As we’ve shared before, many people (71% in our survey) are not satisfied with their experiences. Largely, traditional diabetes care and education services have employed a “problem-focused” approach that concentrates on trying to pin-point causes of “problems”. (What caused your low? Why haven’t you been exercising? What led to your time out of range? You get the idea…) Overwhelmingly, the survey respondents expressed desire for their healthcare professionals (HCPs) to focus on non-judgmental communication with individualized, personalized care and education. The desire is that HCPs be positive and express “You can be healthy and we’re here to support your journey!”  Diabetes care and education specialists can play a key role in stepping alongside their clients with diabetes as think partners to envision possibilities. 


    Each week we’re including a solution-focused challenge that can help evolve care and education in a solution-focused manner. This week the challenge is to consider conversations around continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). The expansion of CGM technologies means more people can have access to more data and use that data to learn much more about their diabetes than what a single number shows. In fact, in the previously mentioned survey, when we asked people what they wanted to be doing “more of” in the future, multiple individuals responded with “more time-in-range.” Of course, no one wants to have glucose values that swing up and down or remain above or below target, yet many conversations (while well-meaning), are often focused on pinpointing the cause of the time out of range and  the “whys”, when the cause is usually “diabetes”

    We’ve interpreted and applied learnings from the recent Advanced Technologies and Treatments for Diabetes meeting (ATTD) and presentation by renowned physician Dr. Rich Bergenstal to illustrate how to review CGM data using a solution-focused approach focused on possibilities and building upon strengths. (You can read the complete summary by diaTribe  here.)

    Here are 5 ways to evolve discussions around CGM:

    1. Flat, Narrow, In-Range (FNIR). When reviewing CGM trends, try using the FNIR approach, aiming for tracings that are flat, narrow, and in-range. It creates a goal and something that is possible with education, management, and support. More importantly, it steers clear of negative or disempowering terms while examining data. 
    2. Steady, Tight And in-Range (STAR). Another approach similar to FNIR, again focusing on possibilities of tracings that are steady, tight, and in-range.
    3. More Green, Less Red (MGLR). Are you familiar with the Ambulatory Glucose Profile (AGP)? An AGP report is a standardized glucose report that includes summary statistics, a glucose profile graph and glucose daily calendar graphs. It provides a report format that is consistent regardless of blood glucose monitoring device. Graphs help translate the numbers into a picture for easy, quick interpretation. Try using MGLR particularly with the bar graph that indicates time-in-range. With this approach focus on the green can draw focus to strengths. What and how did you achieve the amount of green we see on the chart? How can you do more of that to see more green and less red? This approach can help build possibilities and define actions.
    4. Thinking fast and slow. What this means is thinking about readings in real time – when one would need to act fast (like responding to a CGM low alert), then taking some time to look at retrospective data and “think slow”, spending time learning to pinpoint strengths and more realistically think about possibilities.
    5. Best Day. Another solution-focused option that we’re fans of is the “Best Day” pattern feature on the AGP report. Focusing on what went well on the “best day” when their glucose values were more in range can guide the individual to focus on their strengths.  Questions you could ask are, “What were you doing on this day to help you have more green and less red? What else was working for you?” This is also a good opportunity to practice “thinking slow” and encouraging individuals to spend time trying to learn from their CGM data.

    So with the arrival of spring, just as Deb’s peach blossoms have the possibility of turning into sweet, juicy peaches as they did last year (pictured below), taking a solution-focused approach to diabetes care and education can be a fresh new start and bring possibilities to light..

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    STRENGTHS: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    The strength in the Dolomite Mountains towering over a lovely placid lake in Northern Italy from Deb’s travels in 2018.

    We find ourselves in the middle of National Words Matter week. Did you know there was such a week? Words are the basis for communication, no matter what language is spoken. Because words matter, we’ve written about the #LangaugeMatters movement many times, you can read more here and here. Here at AFreshPOVforYou, we embrace the importance, power, and impact of words, not just this week, but all year long!

    Our series focusing on words to inspire solution-focused thinking and practice continues this week. You can read more about our take on the power of word selection here. Last week’s word was “Acceptance” – check out our perspective here.

    Today’s word is “Strengths”

    According to the Miriam Webster Dictionary, “strength” is: the quality or state of being strong : capacity for exertion or endurance: a strong attribute or inherent asset. In solution-focused talk, “strengths” are tasks or actions an individual can do well. For instance, seeking support. In a 2018 #DSMA Twitter Chat we asked participants about their strengths. One individual with diabetes replied:

    “I am strong when it comes to seeking support. When I am down, I am self-aware enough to address my hardship. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable.”

    Another replied:

    “My strength is that I refuse to give up. I am tenacious and do not take no for an answer.”

    An individual typically can recognize and clearly identify things they are able to do or achieve and feel happy. We can then encourage focus on those strengths, doing more of what is working, and leveraging those strengths, skills and qualities to create new opportunities. In the same Twitter Chat mentioned above, another participant shared:

    “I concentrate on the lifestyle. The day to day life of a person with diabetes. I work for overall health through exercise, and diet for BGL [blood glucose] results. The support I receive takes care of the rest. So, cure or not, let’s make it as good as we can and support the other.”

    We’ve learned that sometimes self-identified strengths are not areas we might immediately think of in the healthcare world, as evidenced by this individual’s reply:

    “My strengths are passion, humor, and striving to connect with the human being that is each of us. And reminding myself I’m a work in progress.”

    Diabetes care and education specialists can learn a lot from simply asking people what strengths they have to help them live well with diabetes. Those words speak volumes, as evidenced in this individual’s reply:

    “I have the strength to keep on going even [when] I have a few bad readings here and there.  I keep living and doing what I do.”

    The Association for Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES, formerly AADE) embraces using strengths-based language in diabetes care and education, and has a page of resources here that you may find helpful. 

    A solution-focused challenge

    So our challenge to you this week is to focus on using strengths-based language in your communications to help uncover strengths your clients have. And encourage them to build upon those strengths to do more of what is working for them.

    Here are 5 solution-focused questions you can incorporate to focus on strengths:

    1. What strengths do you have and use to help you manage your diabetes every day? 
    2. What other strengths can you identify? (Note: whenever possible we ask “what else” to expand the thought process)
    3. What would success look like for you (e.g. in life, in living with diabetes etc.)?
    4. How can you use your strengths to create opportunities for success?
    5. What else would you like to share with me today?

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    ACCEPTANCE: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

    “Acceptance means to be in the embrace of what is without resistance. True acceptance is one of the most powerful and life-changing practices you can choose for your life journey.” ~Kirra Sherman 

    In our last blog we asked… 

    How can we draw attention to words that are powerful, impactful and transformative. More importantly, how can we build a new vocabulary in healthcare so these words easily flow into conversations between diabetes care and education specialists and their clients?

    Join us today as we launch into a series of posts that will focus on words to inspire solution-focused thinking and practice…words which we embrace in practice and believe you will find them impactful in your conversations too. Each post will introduce a new word to weave into your conversations when talking about diabetes or life in general. (Think of this as similar to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary “Word of the Day”.)

    Today’s word is Acceptance

    We’re referring here to self-acceptance, as well as acceptance by the healthcare team in recognizing that people respond to change differently. We chose this as the first word because we believe it is foundational to solution-focused thinking. It underlies everything else. 

    Accepting oneself can be hard! 

    Being realistic about personal strengths and challenges is often easier said than done. For instance, we both love the outdoors and hiking, especially to take in a beautiful fresh view. However, with the ticking by of the years and impact of a couple injuries, we find we can’t quite embrace all of the things we used to do……like hiking up to mountain tops! Yes, that’s a bit of a bummer. We will never climb Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, pictured above! Yet, we’ve come to eventually accept that, and focus now on what we can do and find joy and happiness in that. So, we take flat hikes instead of climbing, we take a cable car ride to the top of the mountain, and we simply enjoy the beauty of it. 

    Here we are enjoying a beautiful view at Urquhart Castle, Inverness, Scotland.

    Striving to be honest with ourselves and accept who we are, our abilities, and acknowledge when we’ve reached our limits is the goal. Without acceptance it’s impossible to move forward.

    Acceptance is critical when living with a chronic condition like diabetes. 

    People need to feel safe when engaging with their care team to acknowledge what they can do, along with what is challenging for them. Diabetes care and education specialists on the other hand, need to support those that live with diabetes as they learn to accept changes and new challenges in dealing with diabetes.And, practice acceptance understanding that people react to challenges differently. It’s critical to accept the person in front of you as they are, without judgement.

    A solution-focused challenge

    So our first challenge to you is to build your capacity for acceptance. Bring this word front and center in each encounter. Develop acceptance as a personal strength and help cultivate it in others. 

    Here are 5 solution-focused questions you can incorporate to focus on building acceptance:

    1. Could  you tell me about your strengths and qualities you are happy about?
    2. What is one thing you have come to accept in your life that took some time to process?
    3. How did you feel when you were finally able to accept that challenging situation?
    4. How could you use those experiences and feelings to move you forward to accept a new challenge now?
    5. How can I help you come to realize acceptance in your life?

    We hope you will enjoy this new series. Please share with colleagues and students and encourage others in keeping acceptance top of mind in interactions. 

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    Words Are Powerful!

    “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

    Words are powerful! Consider these famous brands whose whole identity is defined by a few  words. 

    • Bounty: The Quicker Picker Upper. 
    • American Express: Don’t leave home without it. 
    • United Airlines: Fly the friendly skies. 
    • Disney: The happiest place on earth. 

    We remember these words. These words have power. These words have certainly left an imprint!

    We’ve focused a lot on the power of words over the last year in this blog. Words can define how people view themselves and their situations. Words can empower. Or words can stigmatize and judge. Our belief and practice @AFreshPOVforYou centers around using words that focus on strengths and create solutions, instead of words that dwell on the past and on problems. 

    You may know that  we partnered to help create the Telly Award winning video, Changing the Conversation (you can find it here), that focuses on the impact words have when living with a chronic medical condition. The video begins with Words are powerful!  We’ve watched this video hundreds of times and yet, it still brings a tear to our eyes. Why? Because the words resonate with our emotions and what we believe to be true, but most importantly, the words came directly out of the mouths of individuals who live with diabetes – Every. Single. Day. They shared their thoughts, feelings and emotions with us to create the inspiring words incorporated in the video.

    Now what if the same thing happened with healthcare communication? If careful thought was given to words used in conversation with clients; choosing words that resonated with people living with diabetes. Words that mattered. We can change the way they feel. Words that empowered them. Words that could transform them for the better. 

    Over the course of writing our blog, engaging in research, and connecting with the diabetes community we have been compiling words that align with the tenets of a solution-focused approach to care and education. Words spoken by people with diabetes in surveys, research and focus groups. Words expressed during Twitter chats. Words written in papers. 

    So we considered…

    How can we draw attention to these words and have them easily flow into conversations between diabetes care and education specialists and their clients?

    As a step in that direction, we are launching into a new series of blog posts focused on some of these key words that inspire solution-focused thinking. These words, their meanings, and impact are so powerful that we will devote a blog to each word. Our hope is that each post will spur thinking, inspire, motivate and provide practical guidance as we’ll challenge you to incorporate the word into your daily practice and encounters. 

    How are your words impacting others today? 

    Together, we can slowly evolve our vocabulary and ultimately change our messages. Together we can embrace possibilities, opportunities and create a fresh vision for the future.

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a healthcare professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    A Fresh POV for You in 2020: Our Renewed Focus

    A beautiful sunrise to start a fresh day!

    A new year, new decade, and renewed focus for us here @AFreshPOVforYou! This blog is over a year old now, and while our overarching focus remains the same, our Mission has evolved over time.

    Our overarching goal

    Our broad goal at A Fresh POV for You is to focus on Possibilities, Opportunities and creating a Vision (POV) for the future, based on strengths and leveraging positive learnings from past experiences. Initially the primary focus of this blog was people living with or at risk for diabetes. However, we realized that we also want to share our learnings and how-to’s with other diabetes care and education specialists in order to begin to flip the paradigm to embrace a solution-focused approach in practice. 

    Our new Mission

    We guide healthcare professionals in taking a solution-focused approach to practice to enable clients with diabetes to embrace possibilities, opportunities, and a fresh vision for the future.

    Who are we? 

    We are solution-focused diabetes care and education specialists . We are passionate about doing diabetes care and education differently. Too much of life is spent focusing on problems. Forget the “problems”! Let’s turn attention instead to possibilities, opportunities, and a fresh vision for the future. As diabetes care and education specialists, let’s step alongside our clients as “think partners” to focus on what’s important to them, what’s already going well, and build upon that to reach their goals so that they may live life to the fullest. 

    We have both spent our entire careers partnering with people with diabetes to leave a positive imprint. In our discussions and research with people with diabetes, we’ve heard loud and clear that many are not happy with the diabetes care and education services they have received. A remark that has frequently bubbled up is related to leaving a healthcare appointment feeling badly because of significant negative talk and attitudes – feeling as if they, the person with diabetes, has done something wrong, and thus are not motivated or inspired to do things differently. We are advocates for person-centered, strengths-based language, and believe that self-compassion is essential when living with a chronic condition. 

    A peek at our research findings

    From our research we’ve learned that incorporating a solution-focused approach into our interactions with clients makes a difference. Five themes emerged from our qualitative study regarding what  “would happen” in a desired future state, including: more living life; laughter and humor; self-compassion; resilience; and support.Together, let’s do more of what works, and focus less on what’s wrong.  

    Top 10 things we accomplished in 2019

    1. Conducted a survey around the perceptions and impact of current diabetes education services. (You can learn more in this post)
    2. Hosted 2 #DSMA Twitter Chats around taking a solution-focused approach to life with diabetes. (Read more about them here and here)
    3. Conducted a qualitative research study via Twitter around the impact of implementing a solution-focused tool, the  Miracle Question, with people living with diabetes.
    4. Conducted in-depth focus groups with people living with diabetes to gain insight around wants and needs to co-design the future of diabetes care and education services. (Read more about co-design here)
    5. Presented at the American Association of Diabetes Educators annual meeting  on implementation of the solution-focused tool, the Miracle Question adapted for diabetes. (Read about that here)
    6. Presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) on our Twitter Chat research. (Read our abstract here and our blog posts here and here)
    7. In follow-up to the EASD presentation, had our work published in the European Medical Journal focused on diabetes. (Find it here)
    8. Submitted a paper on taking a solution-focused approach to diabetes care and education accepted for publication in AADE in Practice journal.
    9. Submitted a paper sharing some of our research findings to The Diabetes Educator journal. 
    10. Outlined the content for a solution-focused handbook (more to come in the next year!)

    Top learning from 2019

    A solution-focused approach to diabetes care and education resonates with people with diabetes and diabetes care and education specialists!

    Our fresh views

    We’ve called our weekly blog posts our “Fresh Views” because not only do we share views and practical guidance in the diabetes realm, we also often share inspiring fresh views we’ve experienced in our travels, be it a beautiful sunset, a sandy beach, or towering mountains.

    Getting to know us personally, beyond professionally is important. We believe in the concept of a “therapeutic alliance”- which means that the relationship between health care professionals and people with diabetes is the most important component. So, aside from being passionate diabetes care and education specialists, we are also speakers, authors, wives, moms, adventurers, and avid travelers always in search of the next fresh and magnificent view! We have lots of creative ideas and ways we hope to engage in innovative diabetes education services! 

    Follow us @AFreshPOVforYou on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest and learn more about our fresh views! 

    If you are a healthcare professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

  • Fresh Views

    Make New Year’s Solutions (Instead of Resolutions) for 2020!

    With the start of the new year, many find themselves reflecting on the past year, re-evaluating life, and pondering what “resolutions” they will set for the new year.  New year’s resolutions often focus on “stopping” doing certain things and starting to make changes. Many resolutions revolve around trying to be healthier in some way.  Yet evidence shows that about 80% of people fail to stick to their New Year’s resolutions longer than six weeks.  That means by the time that Valentine’s Day rolls around, many have abandoned their desire to change. Often resolutions are attempts to find ways to solve problems.

    What if, instead of making New Year’s Resolutions which require change and “fixing”  problems (and change is hard!) – you focus instead on making New Year’s Solutions?

    Who doesn’t like a solution after all? One way to identify solutions is to focus on things that have gone well in the past, and pinpoint how you can do more of that (rather than trying to change).

    As you reflect on the past year, here are 5 questions to ask yourself and guide your thinking as you identify solutions:

    1. What went well for you in 2019?
    2. What did you feel happy about?
    3. What behaviors helped you feel successful and were doable?
    4. How can you do more that?
    5. Instead of thinking about “problems”, how can you reframe your thinking into positive “opportunities” and solutions? (Reframing a situation, idea, or belief can bring a fresh perspective. You can read more about this in our January 2, 2019 post.)

    We’d love to hear what your’re thinking about for your New Year’s Solutions. Connect with us on Twitter or Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

  • Fresh Views

    Happy Holidays from Deb and Tami @ AFreshPOVforYou!

    Taken at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV

    Happy Holidays from @AFreshPOVforYou (Tami and Deb)!

    We are taking a holiday break to enjoy time with family and friends and put self-care into practice. We hope you too can take a break, enjoy some downtime, relax and renew!

    Keeping pics of happy times at our fingertips on our phones is one way we practice gratitude! We hope you enjoy this pic from a couple years back. 

    We’ll be back in the new year……can’t believe it will be 2020….. with new posts and fresh views on taking a solution-focused approach to managing diabetes!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    9 tried and true strategies to enjoy eating at holiday gatherings

    With the holiday season and celebrations in full swing, today we want to share 9 tried and true strategies to enjoy the spread at holiday gatherings without compromising blood glucose. These strategies have worked for our clients and he hope are helpful for you.

    Strategy #1: Consider eating a small snack before the holiday gathering to curb appetite

    Some find it helpful to eat a small snack before heading out to the festivities. Maybe a small handful of almonds, peanuts, or pistachios, a boiled egg, or a stick of string cheese. It’s easier then to focus on fun and visiting, rather than being sidetracked by  appetite, concerns about there being food options that work for you, and potential worry about blood glucose dropping out of range.

    Strategy #2: Take a healthy dish or treat to share, or a healthier version of a favorite. Maybe it’s something like the caprese kabobs Tami made for an event that you see pictured above. Just a couple of grape tomatoes, fresh basil (or spinach) leaves, and a fresh mozzarella ball speared with a small skewer with a balsamic dressing to drizzle. Offering to bring something healthy can reduce stress by knowing that there’s at least one item to suit personal preferences and needs. (And chances are the host will welcome an addition to the party spread!)

    Strategy #3: Plan ahead how to fit-in carbohydrate-rich foods. We’ve seen many try to trick themselves into believing that “just a little bit” of a carbohydrate-rich food won’t affect blood glucose? Sweet potato casserole, stuffing, corn pudding…you get the idea. The reality is, that strategy often doesn’t work out so well. However, by familiarizing oneself with the carbs in special holiday foods, planning a carbohydrate managed portion, and then including those carbs rather than simply adding them on, it’s possible to enjoy holiday foods and still manage blood glucose.

    Strategy #4: Stick with tiny tastings. Many clients we’ve worked with over the years have shared success keeping their blood glucose in range by sticking with tiny tastings, or 2-3 bites, of foods they may be unsure of exactly what’s in them or foods that are rich in carbohydrates They can still enjoy the experience without too much worry of sending blood glucose out of range.  This is also a great strategy when traveling. You can read more about that here.

    Strategy #5: Cruise by the foods that aren’t worth the carbohydrate or calories.  We encourage clients that before filling the plate with a little bit of everything, to cruise the buffet or party spread to see what’s available, and then decide which foods they really want, and what portion of each works for them. We encourage asking themselves, “Is it worth the carbohydrate or calories?” If the answer is “no,” then it may be best to pass it by. If the answer is “yes,” then decide what portion fits their carbohydrate budget before adding it to the plate.

    Strategy #6: Fill half of the plate with veggies of the non-starchy variety

    Aim to fill at least half of the plate with non-starchy veggies like carrots, broccoli, cherry or grape tomatoes, and pepper strips. Or fill a punch cup with salad (like you see in the picture). Raw vegetables will keep you munching and fill you up with minimal carbohydrates and calories, leaving room in the carbohydrate “budget” to sample some special foods.

    Strategy #7: Go for protein if possible

    When you’re cruising the spread, take note of protein options. Maybe there’s cheese, nuts, chicken salad, or sliced turkey or beef that can curb hunger with little carbohydrate or effect on blood glucose.

    Strategy #8: Plan for alcohol if you choose to drink

    Decide your limit on alcohol before any special occasion. Consider starting with a nonalcoholic beverage (especially if thirsty) and then slowly savor an “adult  beverage” of choice. If choosing to sip more than one alcoholic drink, drinking something in between that’s nonalcoholic (like sparkling water, club soda, or infused water which you see in the picture) will give the body time to process the alcohol already consumed. The big thing to know is that for people with diabetes alcohol may cause blood glucose to drop too low, especially for those that take diabetes medications with hypoglycemia as a side effect.

    Strategy #9: Evaluate what went well. After each event, reflect on what went well and how you can repeat that at future gatherings. This is a helpful solution-focused strategy for anyone! Also think about what didn’t go as planned, and what changes can be made at future gatherings to keep blood glucose in range. You can read more in our blog post on Bright Spots and Landmines.

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    A recap of solution-focused sessions from IDF Congress 2019

    Busan Gamcheon Culture Village (부산 감천문화마을)

    “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

    Hi, this is Deb writing today. I just recently returned from the International Diabetes Federation Congress, in Busan, Korea. A few of our readers made it to this conference, along with many more friends from the diabetes community who presented interesting sessions that we @AFreshPOVforYou thought you might appreciate.

    Living with Diabetes Stream

    My main reason for attending was to present on a panel discussing #LanguageMatters as part of the Living with Diabetes Stream, a series of sessions that focus on life with diabetes where many people living with diabetes discuss their strengths and challenges and share real world experiences. It was a great opportunity to share lessons learned over the past several years about how empowering, person-first, strengths-based language can not only improve healthcare communication, but also health outcomes. I co-chaired the panel with Renza Scibilia, from Australia, one of the early adopters the #LanguageMatters movement. There were three speakers, each with a slightly different focus. 

    First, Shinomi Takahashi,  a nurse and PhD candidate from Japan, presented on the meaning of the word “diabetes” in different languages. It was fascinating to learn that in Japanese, diabetes, tou-nyou-byou (糖尿病) means “sugar-urine disease”, and many people feel this adds to the stigma of living with diabetes. There was a movement in Japan to change the names of type 1 and type 2 diabetes to describe the physiological differences of the conditions, similar to U.S. discussions. However, as several mentioned in the session – the differentiation between types actually leads to more stigma associated with type 2 diabetes.

    Next, I spoke on the Value of Language Guidelines. The key takeaway was that the use of guidelines helps to change the practice of healthcare. When educating healthcare professionals (HCPs) about the impact of language on engagement in care AND health outcomes, HCPs start to listen. If only all medical, nursing, dietetics and other health profession education programs began each year with a review of the use of strengths-based, person-first language, we’d all be in a better place. The more I learn, write, and speak about incorporating a solution-focused approach into diabetes care and education, the more I realize that this approach makes the use of strengths-based language so easy and natural. So, if we can help HCPs incorporate this approach into practice, we can help change the language at the same time! As always, I ended my presentation with the film co-designed by people living with diabetes and HCPs,  “Changing the Conversation”, that continues to resonate with audiences who engage with people with diabetes. (I think it was shown at least three times during the conference!)

    Deb presenting at the Diabetes Spotlight stage

    The final speaker, Elizabeth Snouffer, Editor for DiabetesVoice.org, presented information around the messaging and advertising that has wrongly portrayed diabetes in the eyes of the public. She shared how creating a culture of fear, victim blaming, and stereotyping does nothing but fuel the myths and misconceptions. What was really fascinating was the focus on how advocacy organizations and other consumer focused groups actually contribute to the stigmatizing language. Some of the images she shared were unbelievable (You can see some of those here on Twitter). She concluded with examples of successful campaigns that have made a difference in changing the conversation around diabetes. 

    Digital Health

    I also sat on a digital health panel, Technology; The future is now, with a line-up of amazing individuals representing the spectrum of the digital health:

    • Kyle J. Rose (Healthcare Enthusiast and Innovator), a newly elected Vice President for IDF Global, and previously with mySugr, chaired the panel 
    • I represented the perspective of the HCP, diabetes care and education specialist, and the realm of digital coaching 
    • Renza Scibilia (Type 1 Diabetes and Consumer Voice at Diabetes Australia), as she proclaimed, was the “most important person on the panel, the person living with diabetes” (and of course we all agreed) 
    • Manny Hernandez (Head of Community, Livongo) represented the health technology industry
    • David Staehler (VP, Eli Lilly, Global Brand Development), represented the pharmaceutical industry
    • Dr. Mahmood Kazemi (VP Global Medical and Scientific Affairs, Abbott Diabetes), represented the medical device industry, and 
    • Dr. Jane Speight (Foundation Director, The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes), represented the psychological side of living with diabetes and technology 

    Some of the key takeaways from the session were: 

    • Technology is not one-size-fits-all; tools need to be individualized.
    • Both population level data analysis and individual data interpretation are needed to change health outcomes.
    • There is a burden associated with technology and data for both the person living with diabetes and the HCP.
    • And from my perspective: There is often too much focus on data that is “out of range” taking a problem-focused approach, and not enough implementation of a solution-focused approach. 
    Deb, Manny Hernandez, Jane Speight and Renza Scibilia getting ready for the panel

    Diabetes Distress

    I also chaired a session on Diabetes Distress. Dr. Jane Speight, from Australia, gave a brilliant talk about the benefits of peer support for diabetes distress. Although not much research has focused on this issue, she shared a few research studies that showed significant and meaningful improvement in diabetes distress, especially in a group setting. Attending in-person group meetings can be challenging for people, but there is promise that online peer support groups can have the same impact as in person. She suggests that while more research is needed, peer support is beneficial.

    Living with Diabetes Award Lecture

    Manny Hernandez showing his now famous blue circle slide representing the time a person actually spends self-managing diabetes

    One of the highlights for me was the Living with Diabetes award lecture by Manny Hernandez.  Manny shared his journey with diabetes beginning with initially being misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, Manny had a primary care doctor who knew when he “was out of options” and referred Manny to an endocrinologist, who finally diagnosed him with LADA. For years, Manny was not connected with other people living with diabetes. Then one day he attended a group with other people with diabetes, and learned more in that one hour than he had in the previous four years. This experience led him to develop the tudiabetes.org online peer support community (and EsTuDiabetes.org in Spanish), and eventually The Diabetes Hands Foundation (DHF). The peer support experienced from these communities has impacted so many lives, so people no longer feel alone. I was on the Board of DHF when it closed with Manny’s transition  to work in industry (Manny was caring for his mother living with Alzheimers, so he needed to leave the nonprofit world and now works for Livongo). Yet, Manny had the foresight to ask Beyond Type One to take over the DHF communities and they continue to thrive. (Excitingly, I’m now working on a research study and engaged again with the EsTuDiabetes.org community….more to come on that next year!). The love for Manny in the diabetes community is strong and was evident during his presentation. I felt privileged to be there in person when he received this well-deserved honor.

    Manny’s diabetes “Tribe” after his award lecture (Photo courtesy of Boudewijn Bertsch)

    There were many other sessions I wanted to listen to, but they conflicted with my sessions. They included Riva Greenberg’s presentation on the Flourishing Approach (we wrote about it here), and a presentation on #TalkaboutComplications with Renza Scibilia and The Grumpy Pumper, which addressed language used when talking about diabetes complications, and the stigma and bias those discussions often lead to.

    The more we support using strengths-based language, the more we realize how closely connected language is to a solution-focused approach. Focusing on strengths and what’s working well generates solution-talk and a uniquely different experience between clients and HCPs. 

    Exciting advantages of speaking at conferences are the opportunities to learn something new,  meet new people, see new sights, and of course see fresh views. I’ve broadened my diabetes colleague network and made new friends on this trip, while reconnecting with old friends. I  saw many interesting sites in Busan and ended my conference by spending a few sightseeing days in Seoul before heading home. I even got to connect with my daughter’s freshman year college roommate who lives outside of Seoul. Hopefully I’ll make it to IDF 2021 in Bangkok, Thailand!

    Sunset over Busan

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  • Fresh Views

    DiabetesSisters are making a difference!

    DiabetesSisters 5TH Annual Leadership Institute, Chicago, IL

    It’s hard to believe that National Diabetes Awareness Month has come and gone! Lots of impactful events took place as well as lots of learning. We like to highlight people and organizations that are making a difference in the diabetes community, so this month we’re highlighting DiabetesSisters, a national nonprofit that strives to improve the health and quality of life of women with diabetes and to advocate on their behalf.  We spoke with a DiabetesSisters PODS leader in a previous post on travel with diabetes you can read here. (disclosure: Deb serves on the board of directors for DiabetesSisters)

    Thank you to Anna Norton, Karen Graffeo and Sara Mart for sharing the initiatives they’ve been focusing on to support the community during National Diabetes Awareness Month (#NDAM) and beyond.

    Sara Mart, Anna Norton and Karen Graffeo from DiabetesSisters


    National Diabetes Awareness Month Activities

    This month alone, our Minority Initiative Program hosted events for women in underserved populations, with presenter Lorena Drago, MS, RDN, CDN, CDE sharing information, dispelling myths, and answering questions about diabetes. Two of these events, held in Miami on November 13th and 14th focused on culturally relevant information for Latina women and were conducted entirely in Spanish. On November 15th, we teamed up with Hip Hop Fit with Gene Hicks in the Chicago area, where Lorena discussed myths and misconceptions about diabetes. Then attendees participated in a fun Hip Hop Fit class. These events were open to community members, thanks to our sponsors.

     We also completed our third installment of our Facebook Live Series on November 15th. With partners The National Kidney Foundation and WomenHeart, we focused on the connection between diabetes, heart disease, and chronic kidney disease. It was hosted by Anne Dalin, who lives with diabetes and is a leader of our Bridgewater PODS Meetup group.

    PODS Meetups

     Our PODS Meetups are a signature program of DiabetesSisters and are peer-led support groups for women living with all types of diabetes and pre-diabetes. Held throughout the country all year long, volunteers lead Meetups in more than 40 locations! During National Diabetes Awareness month, thirty PODS groups met, with several of them focusing on conversations about diabetes and heart health. Earlier this year, many of our leaders also spent time in Chicago for our 5th Annual Leadership Institute, where they enhanced their skills in facilitating conversations and creating an open, welcoming atmosphere that encourages honest discussions. They brainstormed ways to promote, recruit, maintain, and grow PODS Meetups and shared with PODS Leaders from around the nation. DiabetesSisters also supports our volunteers with PODS Site Visits, where members of our staff travel to and attend PODS Meetups. Our staff spent time on the road this year to visit with groups in North Carolina, Minnesota, Texas, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

    Between the Lines Project

     At the beginning of the year, we launched Between the Lines, a digital page on our website sharing real stories of women living real lives with diabetes. Each story focuses on a different life event and discusses the challenges posed to managing blood glucose levels and the effects on quality of life. It is important to share these real stories that show examples of how life events can impact our ability to stay between the lines of our desired blood sugar range, and we are thankful for every woman who has shared her personal story with us. This on-going project welcomes new stories continuously and we invite any woman living with diabetes or pre-diabetes who is interested in sharing her story to email us at info@diabetessisters.org

    DiabetesSisters PODS Leaders

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

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