Last week, I spent three days attending and giving presentations at the annual Australian Diabetes Society-Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADS-ADEA) Scientific Meeting, here in sunny Melbourne. It was a huge week with record attendance and the conference ‘felt’ big.  I’m being a little lazy here, but I think that the best way to capture everything I want to share is to use dot points. Here goes:

  • Congratulations to the ACBRD team for their symposium on day 1 – Diabetes Distress and Depression – Facing Challenges, Bringing Solutions. Special shouts out to Professor Jane Speight and Dr Christel Hendrieckx who were able to really focus on the ‘solutions’ part of this session.
  • Overall, it was really pleasing to see an increased focus on mental health and behavioural research at the conference. Finally, the message that diabetes is absolutely not just about numbers seems to be getting through.
  • And for that reason, it’s terrific to see presenters giving really practical advice about how to address mental health issues. Huge, huge points to Christel (again), Jane (again) and Dr Carol Silberberg for not only stating what the issues are, but actually providing take-home tips for clinicians to actually use. Mental health can be a tough topic to broach – especially if HCPs feel they don’t have the tools to deal with it – but thanks to presentations by these three, there was some really hands-on advice that has the potential to help HCPs change their practise.
  • I called it when it was launched, and I’ll say it again: The Enhancing Your Consulting Skills resource developed by ADS is going to change the face of educating HCPs (endocrinology trainees) about diabetes. The ADS Symposium on the Thursday morning highlighted again just how valuable this resource will be. I was honoured to be invited to present at this session, and once again would like to thank the team responsible for considering the ‘consumer perspective’ throughout the development of the resource, and continuing to do so.
  • Further to that, I hope I wasn’t too rude to the GP who informed the panel that we had forgotten ‘the most important person in the team – the GP’. I was trying to be respectful when I reminded him that actually that title goes to the person with diabetes. I may have failed.
  • We need to talk about Dr Silberberg’s slides about clinicians not liking their patients. It was so, so interesting and gave such an insight into the clinicians’ minds. But that’s a whole other blog post! (Stay tuned…..)Emma - salt n pepa
  • Great presentation from Emma White and Jesuina Noronha from Monash Children’s about some research they’ve conducted on sexual health knowledge, attitudes and beliefs in adolescents and young adults with type 1 diabetes. Some very interesting findings were presented. And Emma finished off with a bit of Salt n Pepa’s Let’s Talk About Sex. That girl rocks.
  • I was a little disappointed that at the Technology 101 session on the final day, there was not a single consumer presenting. I understand the importance of discussing how HCPs use technology in their practice and applications for e-health. But many consumers are way ahead of the curve here and could have provided some very interesting insights about how technology can be used to connect (with other PWD as well as our HCPs), communicate, and gather, collate and share information.
  • Even though the Consumer Outreach day was held on the final day of the conference, this is really the first time that I have felt that there has been a real consumer presence for the entire conference.
  • While we’re on this topic, a special shout out to OzDOC guru Kim Henshaw for her outstanding tweeting throughout the conference. I was unable to get to nearly as many sessions as I would have liked due to meetings, but following her tweets gave me a pretty good insight into what was going on in the sessions I missed.
  • Congrats to the organising team for stepping up this year with social media exposure. It was great that in the lead up to the event, there was a section on the website about using SoMe at the conference, a dedicated hashtag that was promoted throughout and twitter walls around the conference facilities (usually showing the faces of the consumer advocates in attendance who were busy tweeting).Twitter wall
  • It would, however, be great to see more HCPs tweeting. Most came from consumer advocates and the ACBRD team. Perhaps a couple of ‘tweeting 101’ sessions over lunchtime would work to get some more people on board?
  • Why is this important? Because the reality is, if it wasn’t for the few of us tweeting at the conference, most people would not have a clue about the sessions. How many people with diabetes have time in their appointment to ask if their HCP attended the conference – and what they learnt?
  • A tiny suggestion to the organising team that they look at programming. Frequently, there were two or three sessions on at the same time that I would have loved to attend, and then sessions where there was nothing of particular interest. I heard this complaint from quite a few people (so it’s not just me!!). Perhaps some more consideration about spacing of sessions and spreading out the topics of interest to attendees.Lolly stand
  • The Exhibition Hall at conferences is always a treat. This year, the battle for most enticing exhibit (in my books, anyway) went to the Lilly team who not only had the best (free) coffee, but also a sweets stand where they were dishing out little cups of lollies to attendees who stopped by. Very useful for those of us experiencing Conference Hypo Syndrome.
  • Also seen in the Expo hall were people handing out nuts . They got angry at me when I said I wouldn’t write about their product. ‘But they’re just nuts’, one of their reps said to me. Indeed they were. Gabrielle
  • But the bestest thing of all in that hall was not the free coffee or free lollies. No. It was a French poodle called Gabrielle who was there with the Paws for Diabetics team. More on that to come too.
  • Weirdly, on the first day I found myself in the wrong Expo hall looking at tractors. Not relevant at all; just weird.

Well. that’s ADS-ADEA for another year. I’m going to finish up with this slide that Dr Jennifer Conn used in her presentation during the Type 1 Diabetes Consulting Skills symposium where she used this perfect quote from Elliot Joslin.Joslin qiote

If you jump on Twitter and search #ADSADEA2014 you’ll find all the tweets from the conference. GO!