Helena Farrell RGN, MSc is recognized as an expert in her field of diabetes self management education and diabetes motivational coaching. Helena believes strongly that education & supports for people with diabetes in Ireland should be seen as a specialty in its own right and should be accessible to all types of diabetes at the point of diagnosis.
Helenas thesis for her MSc Diabetes was titled ‘Nurse Led Education V Group Education: Which Form of Education Provides the Best Long Term Outcomes’. Through Helenas researched she proved that a blended learning approach is best for people with diabetes and that a person needs to be assessed on their learning preferences first, rather than providing just diabetes knowledge in order for them to achieve effective diabetes management. No one approach outweighs the other in the long term.
Her research has led her to develop the Diabetes Insight Lifestyle Programme as part of her service that she founded in 2007, Diabetes Insight.
Helena began her nurse training in Cork University Hospital in 1996, graduating in 2000. Since then she has worked predominantly in the field of diabetes specialist nursing within the public and private health care sector. She has multiple qualifications in nutrition, fitness, addiction studies, obesity/weight management, psychotherapy, motivational coaching, as well as receiving a Masters of Science Degree in Diabetes from the University of Warwick in 2013.
All these qualifications have allowed Helena to amalgamate a number of practices and disciplines so that she can provide a 360 degree holistic view of an individuals diabetes.
Diabetes Insight: The Beginning
Having worked with a number of consultants from the states, who were very used to autonomous nurse practionners in diabetes, Helena began to explore the option of developing a service for people with diabetes to access high quality education and support, when they needed it, not when the system dictated to them. It led her to research and visit diabetes advisory services abroad to see how she could develop such a service in Ireland.
Having become disillusioned on both a professional and personal level with the Irish public health care system and the way they provide education & psychological support for people with diabetes, Helena developed and founded Diabetes Insight, the first service of its kind within the Republic of Ireland for people with diabetes in 2007.
Since its foundation in 2007, consultants, GPs, health care professionals and most importantly hundreds of people with diabetes have accessed Diabetes Insight from all across Ireland, vindicating Helenas research and belief that there needs to be a new approach to how people with diabetes are educated in Ireland amongst the health care system and profession.
Helena has gone on to develop several community diabetes services within primary care centres in Munster, published countless articles on diabetes, given media interviews as well as working on advisory boards for diabetes related products and organisations.
She currently is a CPD facilitator with the INMO (Irish Nurses and Midwifery Organisations) and teaches CPDS for nurses and professionals on diabetes nationwide.