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July 9, 2019


Diabetes is a complex chronic condition described as a metabolic disorder of multiple causes. It is categorized by elevated blood sugar levels resulting from insufficient or inactive insulin production. In other words, there is less insulin being made by the body and the body is less able to use that insulin effectively. Managing diabetes is challenging and it requires an individual and/or their family members to self-monitor blood glucose (SMBG) levels, make ongoing decisions around food, exercise and daily activities of life.

There are some barriers to self-management that may pose some limitations. Some of these barriers include: 

  • Limited or lack of access to healthcare providers: Waitlist for physicians, no access to diabetes counselling and support
  • Limited social or financial support
  • Limited or lack of access to resources: such as glucose meters, testing strips, lancets, medications, food
  • Lack of self-management Diabetes Education- “Diabetes clinical practice guidelines recommends that the first priority for all people with diabetes is the prevention of complications through a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach that includes (among other elements) lifestyle modification”.

Research supports the beneficial effects of including self-management education on clinical, emotional and behavioral outcomes for persons with Diabetes. Hence, self-management education is an essential part of managing and keeping diabetes under control.

Some recommendations are:

    1.  Self-management education should be provided in a timely manner to the individual with diabetes in-order to encourage self-management practices and behaviours.
      *Therefore seek out Diabetes Education Programs in your community. Accesses to these community programs are free!
    2.  Educators should encourage participation and collaboration of the individual with diabetes in the decision-making.
      *If you are a person living with diabetes, be active in the decision making process and work collectively with your diabetes team.
    3.  As part of self-management; strategies to cope with stress should be included in diabetes intervention when appropriate to assists individuals, families and caregivers.

Learn about your rights!

  •  Human Rights Legislation ensures accommodations in most public places so that an individual can manage their diabetes without discrimination.
  •  Right to check your blood sugar and administer insulin whenever/wherever needed, unless doing so would create a safety risk for you or others around you.
  •  If you are a diabetic patient and find yourself at a venue where food is not permitted or is confiscated, calmly explain that you have diabetes and that you need to carry a snack and/or drink to manage your blood sugar and to prevent an emergency situation.
  •  An individual with diabetes should be eligible for employment in any occupation in which he/she is qualified without discrimination.
  •  Persons with diabetes have the right to be evaluated on an “individual basis to determine their fitness for various things including work, insurance, driving, participation in school, sports and other activities”.
  •  Employers are responsible for accommodating employees with diabetes unless the employer can provide evidence that this will cause “undue hardship to the organization”.
  •  Many persons with diabetes may be eligible for federal and provincial/territorial tax credits to reduce some of the cost of living with diabetes.
  •  Disability Tax Credit and Enhanced tax credits are available for eligible persons with diabetes- obtain more information/assistance from your diabetes team.

Managing diabetes is work. It is a 24 hour a day job with no vacation. But with the right supports and education you can enhance your diabetes self-management skills and have the confidence to manage your diabetes, and not let diabetes manage you!


Chali, S.W., Salih, M.H & Abate, A.T. (2018). Self-care practice and associated factors among diabetes mellitus patients on follow up in Benishangul Gumuz Regional State public hospitals, Western Etiopia: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 11:833, 1-8.

Diabetes Management in Ontario-

Diabetes Canada-

Diabetes Canada –—policies/our-policy-positions/employment

Sherifali.D., Berard L.D., Gucciardi, E., Macdonald & Macneil, G. (2018). Self-Management Education and Support. Canadian Diabetes Association, 42, 36-41.

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