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29 Sept 2022

University Hospital Limerick reveals milestone appointment in diabetes care

University Hospital Limerick reveals milestone appointment in diabetes care

New appointment: Alison McCaffrey

UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick has appointed its first paediatric advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) to support young people with diabetes.

Alison McCaffrey's appointment in paediatric diabetes will, it's hoped, empower youngsters to self-manage their condition, improve their own health outcomes and general quality of life.

"My role is primarily designed to help young people to self-manage their Diabetes, to become empowered to make their own healthcare decisions,” she said, "Young people who engage with their diabetes have better clinical outcomes and quality of life.

"I am privileged to be working with children and young people with diabetes aged 12 years old and upwards. I help provide structured education, building competence in managing diabetes, growing confidence in their own decisions and advocating for themselves in clinic,” Ms McCaffrey added.

The paediatric diabetes service at UHL currently manages 220 young patients. Every year, between 20 and 30 patients will transfer to the adult service and part of Alison’s role adds a new dimension to this service.

"Through structured education, engaging with families, and addressing risk-taking behaviours, the hope is that by the time our patients are leaving the paediatric service and going on to university or starting a job or apprenticeship that they are able to mind their own diabetes in a safe way and that they live life to the full in terms of lifestyle, exercise, travel and all the things we enjoy doing at that age," the nurse explained.

Prof Clodagh O’Gorman, consultant paediatrician with a special interest in diabetes and endocrinology, explained: “Transitioning to the adult services is a process that can take a couple of years. This is one part of Alison’s role but a very important one because there is really good literature to show that young people who disengage from the adult service following a transition that did not meet their needs will represent with significant complications at young ages.”

“This is what we are zoning in on. Alison is working with those kids and young people to see what they need as they transition so we can effect a better service. We are also actively working with the young people and their families to find out what is important to them in their health service and their transition process, and we are keen to align the process as much as possible to meet their needs. We want to make sure they remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible,” said Prof O’Gorman.

With the creation of this post, there are now 49 ANPs and advanced midwife practitioners working within the UL Hospitals Group.

Ms McCaffey completed her nurse training here in 2001, and staffed as a midwife from 2003.

It was here her interest in diabetes emerged.

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