We have been running diabetes programs in Guatemala now for nearly 7 years! Over that time, a guiding aspect of our philosophy and approach to patients has been accompaniment and home visits. As you probably know, diabetic patients often have a hard time meeting the strict guidelines set forth for medications, diet, and exercise. This is not a problem unique to Guatemala, of course, but it is especially difficult there, where low levels of education and literacy and high rates of poverty dramatically impact the ability of patients to keep up with their care plans.
Since the beginning, therefore, we have made a point to try to understand diabetes from the perspective of the patients. This means, quite simply, spending a lot of time with them. For example, one of our nurses regularly reviews the blood sugar results of our diabetic patient panel. Based on these numbers, she is able to identify patients who are having a hard time managing their condition. Subsequently, she sets up home visits, where she is able to spend an entire day with the patient and their family, observing them preparing meals and making suggestions about healthy food choices and portion sizes. In the case of patients who have trouble remembering to take their medications, she also uses these visits as opportunities to identify and implement effective strategies, which often involve enlisting the support of a husband or wife, son or daughter, who can help their loved one with their medications and other needs.
We are very proud of this unique, individualized approach, which has been successful at improving diabetes control and reinforcing key educational concepts to patients.
As always, thanks for your ongoing support. As a reminder, GlobalGiving is conducting a special Mother's Day campaign from May 1-13. All donations made to this project (or to our other projects, here or here) "in honor of" a loved one during this time will make us eligible for additional funds!
Also, if you are interested in signing up for more regular updates on our work in Guatemala, click here.