Down on the farm with hospital team and their young patients with Type-1 diabetes

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Memories and friendships were made when a hospital team took its young patients with Type-1 diabetes for a day on a farm.

The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust Children’s Diabetes Team supports children with diabetes from their bases at Lincoln, Boston and Grantham hospitals.

They recently took 22 children aged between six and 10 years old who all have Type-1 Diabetes to Rand Farm Park.

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They had a day of full of fun, learning all about the animals, feeding them, petting them, enjoying tractor rides, countryside walks, playing in the playgrounds and even making butter after watching the dairy cows being milked.

The children getting ready for a day on the farmThe children getting ready for a day on the farm
The children getting ready for a day on the farm

Type-1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that originates when cells that make insulin are destroyed by a person’s own immune system. It is not caused by obesity, poor diet or any other lifestyle choices.

Claire Cutts said: “We all had an amazing time. At the start of the day most of these children were strangers, but by the end you could see that real friendships had been made.

“We know that many of these children are the only pupil with diabetes in their class or even their whole school. Therefore, it is so important that they are able to have a day where having Type-1 diabetes is normal for everyone. There is no stigma about checking your blood sugar levels, using an insulin pen, or adjusting your insulin pump. Instead it was a day about new experiences, friendship and sharing stories and advice with each other.”

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Throughout the day there were times allocated for all of the children to have time to enjoy a drink and biscuit, as well as check their blood sugar levels. Hospital staff were on hand if any of the monitors indicated that intervention was needed. For some children this might have meant medication, for others it was glucose tablets or a refreshing drink of fruit juice.

Getting to meet some of the animalsGetting to meet some of the animals
Getting to meet some of the animals

Paediatric Consultant, Dr Tanya Naydeva-Grigorova, added: “Some of our children have been too self-conscious about their diabetes to go on trips before, but felt happy and confident to come away with the hospital team that cares for them. The knowledge that they would be with other children who also have Type-1 diabetes was so reassuring and a valuable life experience for them.

“It is important for the children to know how to check and monitor their blood sugar levels and also take any necessary action or medication to help keep these levels within the recommended range. But it is even more valuable for them to be able to have these opportunities and experiences that helps them to develop their confidence and their independence around managing their condition. These are memories and lessons that will stay with them for the rest of their life.”

One of the children said: “Sometimes I feel like people are watching me when I am checking my blood sugar levels, but here we are all just the same. I feel normal and not different.”

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The trip was made possible thanks to the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Charity. Charity Manager, Ben Petts, said: “As a charity we fund the extras not covered by the NHS. Days like today are why we are here. To watch all of these children making friends and memories is priceless. You can see their confidence and their smiles grow with each minute they are here.”

Charity Manager Ben Petts got to meet the children and see the difference the days haveCharity Manager Ben Petts got to meet the children and see the difference the days have
Charity Manager Ben Petts got to meet the children and see the difference the days have

The charity relies on fundraising and donations to be able to support projects like this.

Zoe Gant, a midwife at Lincoln County Hospital, was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes when she was just four years old. She has supported the Children’s Diabetes Team ever since her then nearly four-year-old son was also diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes while staying on Rainforest Ward at Lincoln County Hospital.

Zoe has organised an evening of entertainment where Gary Barlow tribute act, Dan Hadfield, will perform from 7pm on Saturday 22 June at the Hospital Club, Lincoln.

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The event will raise funds for the charity, and every penny raised will be used to fund further activities so children with Type-1 diabetes can meet, socialise and understand they are not alone.

Tickets are available through Eventbrite. Anyone wanting to make a donation or donate a raffle prize should email [email protected].