Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Training Babysitters to Care for Kids with Diabetes

Tonight I did a workshop for a nanny/babysitting service in Austin so their nannies could help families with children with type one diabetes. It was about an hour an a half and I provided the basics about what diabetes is and we discussed what parents fear most in leaving their child. We covered a lot of basics of care like drawing insulin in syringes, giving shots to a stuffed practice tool, playing with my pump and I had each of them check my blood sugar. I brought six different kinds of meters, insulin pens, Glucagon, etc, so they were familiar with what they might find in a families home and I put together a 24-page handout with lots of details, should the get a client and need a refresher.

The women were fascinated. We even practiced counting carbs and there was a tray of fruit, cheese and crackers and I asked them which of the foods on the tray had carbs. They all agreed that the crackers and maybe the cheese had carbs, but they had no idea fruit was in that category; so we had the basics of nutrition talk.

One of the things I stressed was that their intuition was their best guide. If they think something isn’t right with the child, just check their blood sugar and find out. We talked a LOT about lows; what to look for, how to handle and what to do in an emergency.

I also stressed how important it is to CALL THE PARENTS if they don’t know what to do, or even if they need to know how many carbs are in a banana. I love getting calls from my sitter asking for clarification on something. It gives me a chance to praise her good decision making and also help them feel more comfortable about coming back for another sitting job.

I would love to know your stories around babysitting; what worries you most and what would give you more confidence about going on a date with your significant other. Having a child with diabetes can be so all consuming and we all need a break, so I am hoping a few more families living in Austin will get a chance to get out.

Photo by Tiffany Chapman


Drea said...

I do not have kids, so I have very minimal interactions with babysitters....but I think your training program is excellent!

I do remember back to being a child (deep in the back part of my brain!!) and my parents only ever left me with either my older sister (who was well aware of what to do....) or a friend of the family who was a doctor.

A program like the one you ran would have certainly opened more options for my parents! Excellent!!

Scott K. Johnson said...

What an excellent thing for you to do! I think that is just fantastic!

Major Bedhead said...

I'd like to find a babysitter that didn't recoil in horror when informed about diabetes being in the mix. Fortunately, O is 12.5 now and capable of taking care of herself with minimal adult supervision, but when she was younger, I would have loved to have been able to leave her with someone so that my husband and I could have gone out.

I think your training session for caregivers is an excellent idea. I wish they had such a thing up here in my area.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy,

I have a 5 year old daughter that has had T1 for 2 years now. We are on the Dexcom (waiting for Navigator) and about to get on the Omnipod wireless pump.

We have a live-in nanny who has been with us since my 5 year old was born. She is such a blessing to our family and is a wonderful caregiver. (I also have a 3yr old and 10 month old, both girls as well) Ana Maria was there at diagnosis and felt just as much pain and hurt (& guilt because she didn't tell me the symptoms she saw) as both my husband and I did. She is truly part of our family.

Having said all that, she speaks about 70% English and we still have trouble communicating about T1 things. Some days I speak to her, speak to my daughter, speak to her, speak to my daughter, and then finally, between all of that, communication is clear. My office always knows when I am speaking to HOME because I am alternating speaking broken Spanish and then to my 5 year old! I still count carbs with her on the same meals over and over. Some days I want to pull my hair out because I feel like I am the only one who "gets it". Ana Maria definitely understands what to look for in a "low", but she overtreats like you wouldn't believe. I get home at least 3 days a week to have my daughter in the 200's...

It is so difficult to explain this disease to just anyone, and I applaud you for doing your part on education. I feel like I am constantly teaching people the basics as well. Recently a co-workers dog was diagnosed with diabetes and I spent hours with him explaining that! Lol...

Good luck! I would love to trade stories with you sometime!

nicole said...

What a great class to have! Have you considered running an online babysitter tutorial? You would be able to hit a huge audience and once a parent of a T1 child finds a sitter they can sit them down at the comp and have them go through the tutorial just to make sure they "get it". Maybe even a little *quiz* at the end of the tutorial. What a wonderful asset you are to your community!

Anonymous said...

You are awesome.

We discovered a nice high school student who was very t1 aware thanks to her t1 friend in school. She was not shot trained and our daughter did her own shots back then so all was well.
Darned kid graduated this year. *sigh*

Your remarks about the sitter calling for the carbs in a banana were spot on.