Apunipima’s Bernadette Heenan has been named the Australian Diabetes Educators Association Jan Baldwin National Credentialled Diabetes Educator of the Year at a special awards ceremony in Perth.
The Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE) of the Year award recognises and honours outstanding achievement and contribution of leading CDEs in the provision of high-quality diabetes education and support for people living with diabetes. The award is financially supported by Eli Lilly Australia.
Bernadette (pictured centre) has been a Credentialled Diabetes Educator for 17 years. She has worked in remote Cape York for 10 years, the last seven with Apunipima.
Nominated by her peers and selected as the Queensland CDE of the Year before going on to win the final prestigious award, Bernadette said helping people with diabetes to live well every day was what her role was all about.
‘Walking beside my clients, being with them on their diabetes journey and keeping the lines of communication open both ways – this is what I offer,’ she explained.
‘A challenge for me is how to get the “diabetes complications are preventable” message across to a myriad of remote clients with different languages, varying literacy levels and more pressing family and cultural priorities. Also knowing when to hold back and just provide them with brief intervention is a constant though rewarding challenge in the environment I which I work.’
‘I have developed many resources to assist our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients to understand their diabetes. I also use the latest technologies to help clients “see” the impact of glucose on their bodies. I advocate for my clients at every opportunity – phoning, texting, inviting, inventing, suggesting, emailing and getting involved in impromptu case conferences.’
‘I used to be a fully-fledged card carrying librarian before I had a complete career change and got into nursing. Now, even if I won Gold Lotto, I would still be a CDE though I would have my own plane so I could jet up to the Cape at leisure.’