Everyday life can present real challenges for people living with complex learning disabilities, even more so when health conditions such as diabetes come into play. But with determination, creativity and perseverance from providers and staff, service users can achieve their potential and have a good quality of life, as CMG’s chief executive, Peter Kinsey, explains.
There are inspirational stories every day at CMG, and I am fortunate enough to see and hear about the milestones and the amazing progress of the individuals we support at more than 100 CMG services across England and Wales.
But there are times where I am particularly struck by the outstanding work being done. A recent example of this came after a presentation from one of our lead support workers, Kellie Baker, at CMG’s Kings Road service in Hampshire. She told us about the work they had been doing over the past year to support a service user with type 1 diabetes.
Diabetes is a serious life-long health condition that causes the amount of glucose in the blood to become dangerously high. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that causes the body attack and destroy insulin producing cells. Insulin controls the amount of glucose in the blood and damage to the body’s ability to produce any insulin causes glucose to rise quickly in the blood, leading to deterioration in health.
Kellie is a keyworker for Christopher Beck (pictured) who, in has a complex learning disability and type 1 diabetes.
When Christopher first arrived at CMG’s Kings Road, there was no standard solution to supporting his diabetes. His condition had been badly managed, and relations with his initial community support team had broken down.
The team at Kings Road worked hard to support Christopher to better understand his diabetes, and helped to improve the management of his insulin levels by introducing restrictions with his diet. While this improved his health, it also made his life more restrictive as he would have to eat certain foods at certain times, isolating him from other service users. He was also still experiencing dangerous fluctuations in his glucose levels.
Kellie, along with Kings Road’s manager, Sophie Hare, became even more determined to make improvements for Christopher. They re-established the relationship with his previous community health nurse and made visual representations of Christopher's glucose levels, via colour-coded spreadsheets so they could track progress and find out the root causes of instability.
Although it took more than a year of hard work and collaboration, with CMG staff at certain points working daily with the community health team, Christopher's blood glucose levels finally stabilised.
The resulting health benefits to Christopher are clear for all to see, and his quality of life has improved dramatically. But what is even more important is that these efforts mean he is now able to eat a less restrictive diet and can once again enjoy having dinner with his housemates, no longer feeling isolated due to his dietary restrictions.
Kellie shared this story with us to show CMG staff that with perseverance, creativity and strong working relationships, great results can be achieved, which make a real difference to a person’s quality of life and allow them to reach their true potential.
I found this extremely inspiring, and I hope you will too.
About the author
Peter Kinsey is chief executive of Care Management Group (CMG), a specialist residential care provider for people with severe learning disabilities.