VPSA funding supports transition policy for adolescent patients with type 1 diabetes

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For patients moving from adolescent to adult care, there are often no transition policies to make the change smoothly. For patients with type 1 diabetes, this can result in acute complications, chronic morbidity, and premature mortality.

“The lack of coordination between pediatric diabetes teams and adult hospitals has led to many patients dropping out of medical care as they graduate from their pediatric providers,” said endocrinologist Dr. Joseph Leung. “Other challenges include difficulties in establishing independent self-care, labile blood sugars due to hormonal changes, and immense social and emotional changes.”

Developing a standardized transition policy for this patient group is the goal of an ongoing project led by Dr. Leung. He and a provincial working group of pediatric and adult endocrinologists, a clinical psychologist, and pediatric and adult diabetes nurses and dieticians meet monthly. A young adult with type 1 diabetes also takes part. VPSA funding covered members’ time spent in these meetings over the 2021/22 fiscal year.

“We have created a framework with multiple resources to assist health-care providers in helping their adolescent patients transition to adult care in a standardized way,” said Dr. Leung. “Staff from 10 of B.C.’s 21 pediatric diabetes clinics are involved in our project and five have committed to piloting the framework this spring and summer. There’s momentum growing and I’m excited about where we’re going.”

This is ground-breaking and innovative work. Dr. Leung believes the results of the project could impact treatment nationally and even internationally.

“VPSA funding was instrumental in building collaborative relationships among different providers,” he said. “Medical care is becoming increasingly siloed as more subspecialties emerge. Communication between health-care providers has been hampered by that and we need to re-establish ties. Our transition framework would not have been possible without the support of VPSA. Everyone valued the time they spent in meetings and great learnings were shared between all the participants.”

To help fund the project’s implementation process and pilot the new transition framework, Dr. Leung recently applied for Small Steps, Big Idea funding.

“We’re thankful and appreciative of the support,” he said. “I’d encourage other VPSA members who have an idea that needs funding to apply.”

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