image of a woman on a beach signifying freedom form diabetes means you are in control by Diabetes Insight Cork Ireland

“So why bother with Diabetes Insight?”……..” What’s so special about it compared to other services?”………” I am already attending a service, I have enough of nurses and doctors in my life to deal with!”……….” What is the point of it, what can it do for me?”……….” Its a private service, probably costs too much, out of my reach…….”

Have you asked yourself those above questions when you heard about Diabetes Insight? Do you just see it as another diabetes service? That is where you are wrong!


When I worked some years ago in the public health system, I was frustrated at the way services were delivered. Having took a career break, I was given the opportunity to develop a private diabetes service. Over time I realised that I could deliver a high quality, specialized service of value, based on patient feed back and that is how Diabetes Insight was born. Now in its 3rd year and having advised, educated and supported over 500 people with diabetes, it has proved itself as a service that is like no other.

In my 16 years of service in both the public and private irish health sector, I have spent 13 years directly working with people with diabetes. During this time I listened, acknowledged and respected the frustrations, challenges and dilemmas that people with diabetes faced on a day to day level, but also what they wanted and needed from a diabetes nurse & service. When I began to develop the idea for Diabetes Insight, I looked further afield to fellow colleagues in the UK, Europe and the US to see what they were offering and what worked for them and their patients. That led me to the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK, where I completed a MSc in Diabetes. The MSc Diabetes programme in Warwick is world renowned, with health care professionals travelling from as far as Libya, Singapore and Greece to complete the course. Meeting doctors, specialist nurses, diabetes teams, not just from the UK but all over the world, sharing their experiences and knowledge, has been the best part of my career. It has opened up my mind to a new way of thinking and supporting people who have diabetes. Having direct access to current, up to date, research and the experts who provide this information, has benefited my practice and the lives of those who attend Diabetes Insight, in more ways then one. Being my own boss, I can avoid the politics and red tape that comes in the health service into implementing new changes or intiatives, therefore I can adjust the service that Diabetes Insight delivers, not only for my benefit but ultimately for those who attend Diabetes Insight. This has led to Diabetes Insight establishing unique initiatives like its own monthly social group for people with diabetes, to a walking group, to workshops and a lifestyle challenge programme…..the list goes on. Suggestions from those who attend the practice are always welcomed wholeheartedly and I always endeavour within reason to accomodate them.

The Diabetes Detective

Another unique feature of Diabetes Insight is the style of which service is delivered. When attending the practice, consultations take a very holistic approach. ‘Holistic’ is a word that invokes various responses but when used in this context, I look at the person and diabetes as a whole. If somebody has a problem with their blood sugars, I don’t just look at the diabetes for answers, I look to factors such as lifestyle, blood results, work/stress balance, family life, other health conditions, medications, monitoring equipment, insulin, injection technique etc to try and find a link to the problem. I am like a ‘diabetes detective’ looking for clues not only in a persons diabetes, but in their life, so as to figure out why problems arise. I can do this because I give each person time, time to speak, time to listen, time just to find the space in life to take a breath and look at their diabetes from outside the box. Because sometimes when you are too close to a problem you may not see it.


Having access to services/colleagues in the UK & abroad, has allowed me to stock the latest products and equipment within my practice. Having introduced products through the social group, it gives me first hand feedback as to whether these products will actually benefit people with diabetes or not. Because I am self employed, I am free from agendas or affiliations which allows the service to be completely transparent. There are no third party’s  It is patients fees which fund the service, supply the equipment and keep the service afloat. Without the patients, the service would not exist.


Helena Farrell - Founder of Diabetes Insight, Cork, Ireland

I pride myself on my communication skills, using simple language that is easy to understand and informal. Having trained in not only speech & drama for years, but facilitation skills, motivational interviewing and life coaching, I have taken techniques from all these and implemented them in my everyday practice. I like to get to know who attends the service, their lives, their families  so that they feel comfortable when attending the practice, not just to talk about diabetes, but anything that is bothering them. Because you can be guaranteed that anything that bothers you, will bother your diabetes also. There are no checklists, or conveyor belt system. I do most of my writing after a consultation so I can give you my full undivided attention.

Its the little things that count

I cater for people who are newly diagnosed with diabetes, to pre diabetes, to those who are on insulin for along time. There is tailored advice and support available for all. If you are experiencing problems with your diabetes, from lack of motivation to why your blood sugars are so high, Diabetes Insight is here to help. Sometimes it is the smallest, simplest piece of advice that a person does not think of, but someone with fresh eyes sees, that can be the cause of such big problems. For example, not changing your needles with every injection of insulin that you take, I have seen, when changed, can make a dramatic difference to some peoples blood sugars. Stuck on losing weight, despite dieting and exercising? I investigate why and how to change.

24/7 Access to Expert Advice & Support

I believe that diabetes just does not exist from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday. That is why each person who attends the practice are given my mobile phone number and email, so as to be able to contact me out of hours, 24/7. This is very comforting for people, especially those who are new to insulin and may be afraid over a weekend what to do if their blood sugars go too high or too low. Or if someone gets sick. Most of the time, people know what to do and how to handle their diabetes, but it is useful to have someone to ring for a second opinion.

No waiting times

A recent study looked at patient satisfaction with their GP and specialist doctor. Conducted on website and published in February 2012 issue of Health Outcomes Research in Medicine, showed that patients were more satisfied with their GP when they were not kept waiting and gave the patient more than ten minutes of their time. The study, taken from 22, 626 respondents, also showed that patients were less satisfied with their visit to their specialist than they were with their GP, as they had higher expectations from their specialist which were not met.

This study is another reason why at Diabetes Insight we pride ourselves in our practice at keeping our waiting times to a minimum & always updating the client if there is ever a delay. If there is delay for more than 30 minutes, (unless there is an emergency) it is our policy not to charge the client for the visit, which I believe should be a practice adopted by all health clinics, practice and services across Ireland, which would motivate practices better on time management. I believe if you are paying for a service, that service should deliver and at Diabetes Insight we pride ourselves on delivering an expert, high quality service to the people who attend our practice. We value and respect you for taking the time, energy & interest in wanting to manage your diabetes and we endeavor to give you all the support and advice that you need to help you do so. Neither do we have a waiting list for our service, which means you can access specialized advice, support and education as you need it.

Extended Consultation Times when needed

We understand the frustration and stress of having to wait around in clinics to see your diabetes team as shared to us by many of you, and after all that wait only seeing a health care professional for ten minutes. That is why for people who are new to attending our practice we dedicate an hour for your first visit and a half hour for subsequent visits. If you feel you need more time, we can schedule that for also.

Family & Friends Are Welcome

Some people attend Diabetes Insight just the once, others have been attending our service since the very beginning. Whatever is your preference, will be respected. We cater for people over the age of 18, from all over Ireland, and you do not need a referral letter, just a set of your most recent blood results, a list of your current medication, any monitoring equipment and of course, yourself! Family members and friends are always welcome.

So I hope now you can see why you ‘should’ bother with Diabetes Insight. This is a service that is funded by people with diabetes, and completely dedicated to serving, supporting and advising people with diabetes. It is the only service in Ireland that gives you instant, direct access to a highly specialized diabetes nurse just an email or phone call away. For further information on the service you can ring Helena directly on (086) 1739287 &/or email:

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