Managing diabetes in an emergency

Australian Diabetes Educators Association

Updating the content and design of an emergency plan that helps people with diabetes prepare for natural disasters was an opportunity to reassess communication needs and tell a story that warns and encourages in equal measure.

The Australian Diabetes Educators Association asked Fenton to assess the effectiveness of its My Diabetes Plan and supporting materials as part of its national disaster management programs.

After reviewing a selection of the many different communications that aim to prepare people for emergencies, we found few publications that were able to account for the needs of those living with diabetes or articulate the erratic effects of stressful situations on blood glucose levels.

We consulted health and emergency management professionals, and state peak bodies representing people with diabetes. A lack of accessible information tailored for people with diabetes was raised by all groups, along with a desire for guidance material to deepen understanding of the condition among professionals.

We developed a concept narrative and new materials for focus testing with people with diabetes from six major language groups. Their feedback endorsed a no-nonsense approach that did not shy away from the realities of natural disasters and emergencies but offered clear advice on the best ways of staying on top of diabetes in situations where the medical services and supplies we take for granted may be temporarily out of reach.

Packaging these materials together with a range of reusable content for print and online communication channels, we created the stakeholder action kit and managed distribution and individual outreach to almost 700 organisations from health and emergency management sectors and local government nationally.

Feedback from stakeholders was positive, and we secured agreements to publish content from the action kit, distribute materials to local communities and adopt key messages for education and training.