Supporting young people with diabetes

13/Nov/2020     Health

The International Diabetes Federation’s theme for World Diabetes Day 2020 is Nurses make the difference for diabetes, meet two Mater clinical nurses who lead a remarkable service aimed at helping young people transition their diabetes care.

Making the transition from child to young adult can be a stressful and daunting experience but for young people living with chronic illnesses, this time in their lives can be particularly difficult to navigate and understand as they find their independence and learn to manage their condition.

For many young people, moving from a team of health care professionals, that you have grown to know and trust over many years, can be difficult.

For young adults aged 16 -25 living with diabetes, a transition service at the Mater Queensland Diabetes and Endocrine Clinic offers a safe and welcoming space for people to meet some of their new team in a relaxed environment.

At this appointment they explain how the clinic works, who the Young Adult Diabetes Team are, appointment scheduling and answer any questions that you may have, establishing a rapport.

Run by Clinical Nurses Trish Bowden and Margaret Vitanza the Transition Clinic accepts patients from the Queensland Children’s Hospital, other paediatric health services and those who have moved to Brisbane from interstate, rural or remote areas.

“This is a nurse initiated and led service where patients are welcome to give themselves a fresh start on their healthcare journey. We spend time getting to know our patients, who they are and what are their health goals,” Trish said.

“We provide a comfortable and supportive environment where young people can learn about their diabetes and how to manage it as their life changes around them. Coming to the clinic should be a positive experience as we facilitate honest and trusting relationships with our patients.

“It is particularly important we target this age group and help them to manage their condition as this is usually a tumultuous time of the young person’s life, when there is a lot of other change occurring. All these factors may challenge the young person’s focus on and ability to manage their diabetes self-cares.  The structure of our transition clinic supports engaging the young person in their health care plan.” 

Margaret explains the clinic is necessary to support the transition from childhood to early adulthood and mitigate the risk of patients not managing their diabetes properly and being lost to follow-up.

“Patients can experience what we call diabetes distress where the concept of managing their condition by themselves becomes too overwhelming impacting on their daily life,” Margaret says.

“In the short term this can negatively impact their mental health, but long term can have severe impacts on their condition leading to hospitalisation and further complications with their diabetes.

“We work with our young adults to holistically screen, acknowledge and manage their level of diabetes distress utilising the Diabetes Psychosocial screening tool. Mater has some fantastic resources which we can connect them in with including Thrive, the Mater Young Adult Health Care Centre, YASU including: psychiatrists, psychologists, social worker, mental health nurses and occupational therapists.”

While at the clinic patients have access to a wide range of specialists and services including pathology, endocrinologists, diabetes nurse educators, dieticians, podiatrists and psychologists.

Patients will also receive an annual health review; renew their medical certificate for driver’s licenses or the engage in the insulin stabilisation service (ISS).

Find out more

To find out more about the Mater Queensland Diabetes and Endocrine Centre (QDEC), you can visit the website here or call  07 3163 2500, or email

Referrals to the centre can be made through a GP. If you would like to discuss a referral, including clinical criteria, or update the status of a current patient please contact our priority GP phone line on 07 3163 2200.

Public relations contacts

07 3163 6142