Limerick hospital appointment to help young people manage diabetes

Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Paediatric Diabetes Alison McCaffrey, with Dr Orla Neylon and Professor Clodagh O’Gorman.

THE appointment of the first paediatric advanced nurse practitioner at University Hospital Limerick will help young people with diabetes transition to adult services.

Alison McCaffrey’s primary role as advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) in Paediatric Diabetes is to empower young people to self-manage their condition, improve health outcomes and general quality-of-life.

“It’s very exciting to be the first Registered ANP in the children’s Ark. My role is primarily designed to help young people to self-manage their Diabetes, to become empowered to make their own healthcare decisions,” Alison explained.

“Young people who engage with their diabetes have better clinical outcomes and quality of life.

“I am privileged to be working with children and young people with diabetes aged 12 years old and upwards. I help provide structured education, building competence in managing diabetes, growing confidence in their own decisions and advocating for themselves in clinic,” she added.

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The paediatric diabetes service at UHL currently manages 220 young patients. Every year, between 20 and 30 patients will transfer to the adult service and part of Alison’s role adds a new dimension to this service.

“The hope is that by the time our patients are leaving the paediatric service and going on to university or starting a job or apprenticeship that they are able to mind their own diabetes in a safe way. They should be capable of living life to the full in terms of lifestyle, exercise, travel and all the things we enjoy doing at that age,” she said.

Consultant Paediatrician Professor Clodagh O’Gorman, who has a special interest in Diabetes and Endocrinology said that  transitioning to the adult services is a process that can take a couple of years.

“This is one part of Alison’s role but a very important one because young people who disengage from the adult service following a transition that did not meet their needs will represent with significant complications at young ages.”

“Alison is working with those kids and young people to see what they need as they transition so we can effect a better service. We are also working with the young people and their families to find out what is important to them in their health service and their transition process. We are keen to align the process as much as possible to meet their needs,” Prof O’Gorman added.

Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist Dr Orla Neylon said that around 30 per cent of children leaving paediatric services will drop out of structured care without multidisciplinary input.

“With the new ANP post, we are hoping to improve outcomes overall; thereby facilitating independence in chronic condition management for young people and a smooth transition to the specialised young adult service,”she explained.

There are now 49 Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) and Advanced Midwife Practitioners (AMPs), including candidate ANPs/AMPs, currently working in UL Hospitals Group.