It's a small, simple but effective tool in improving the management of type 1 diabetes and improving the understanding and lives of young people living with the chronic condition.
The tool is an iPad. And one has just been donated to the children's ward, or the paeds ward, at Tauranga Hospital.
“Type 1 can't be cured but it can be managed,” says Debbie Cunliffe of Diabetes Help Tauranga. “And the iPad will enable nurses and specialists to help educate kids.” There will be apps on the iPad that will enable patients to study things like caring for, and coping with the condition, how to ‘carb count' and how much insulin is needed.
“The iPad which was given by Computer Recyclers will also connect kids with some brilliant websites which enable kids around the world with diabetes to talk to one another.”
There will also be educational games but the main purpose is to support learning, knowledge and skills.
Type 1 diabetes is not well-publicised, nor understood. “When people hear the word diabetes they think of older people with a family history of diabetes and some weight and dietary issues. They do not think of a child or young person with an auto-immune disease.”
The reality is 10,391 people in the Bay of Plenty have diabetes and more than 1000 of them will be children or young people with auto-immune, type 1 diabetes. “Every month another child in the region will be diagnosed and that's pretty shocking,” says Debbie.
Type 1 happens when the immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that make insulin – the hormone that helps move sugar or glucose into the body. Cells use it as fuel to create energy. The effects of type 1 can cause serious health complications but with management, patients can live long, healthy lives.
“When children are first diagnosed the whole thing is a massive shock to them and their families,” says Debbie. “And for them to realise type 1 is a worldwide phenomenon is a big help to them.”
There are games and books on type 1. “But making it current and relevant is very important and that can happen on an iPad. It's just bringing type 1 diabetes education into the current century. It will be well used,” says Debbie.
Famous people living with type 1 diabetes include former tennis star Billie Jean King, singer Nick Jonas and actresses Halle Berry and Mary Tyler Moore.