Care Teams Unite to Serve Diabetic with Special Needs

Caleb Shipley (center) has special needs, but he also has a team ready to deliver in his care providers (left to right) Valerie Householder and Moses Rodriguez and his NorthBay team of Annika Jensen, R.N., and Michelle Curry, R.N.

When most people are diagnosed with diabetes, it is followed by consultation and patient education. But it wasn’t so simple in the case of Caleb Shipley.

A developmentally disabled adult, Caleb, 38, has been living at the Franklin Wiley Care Home in Fairfield since 2007. His diagnosis of diabetes came in February from his primary care physician, Ehsan Ghods, D.O.

The follow-up consultation presented a unique challenge for his NorthBay Healthcare team. Annika Jensen, R.N., primary care health coordinator, wanted to bring in Caleb’s caretakers for some group education, but it was a challenge to get them to come at the same time to the Center for Primary Care in Green Valley. After all, there are three other disabled adults living in the home, so bringing everyone along could be problematic.

Instead, Annika invited Michelle Curry, R.N., primary care team nurse to join her on a field trip to Caleb’s home, where the pair shared their knowledge with home administrator Moses Rodriguez and his assistants.

“We really appreciate the effort the NorthBay team made,” said Moses. “We knew it was up to us to learn how we could better take care of Caleb.”

It meant changes for everyone.

“I think Caleb used to be rewarded with cookies,” said Michelle. “He can still have a cookie now and then, but they’ve found other treats that he can enjoy. And it’s a good thing he loves vegetables.”

Actually, said Moses, Caleb is very easy-going. He’ll eat whatever you put in front of him.

“We reduced his portion size a bit, and he hasn’t complained at all. In fact, he’s lost 8 pounds, and seems to really enjoy the exercise that we’ve added.”

A stationary bicycle was pulled out of a shed and is now easily accessible, so Caleb can get a spin in. “He loves to listen to ‘80s music and ride the bike,” said Moses.

Caleb doesn’t so much enjoy the regular blood tests to measure his blood sugar. “He’s starting to get used to it, but some days, it agitates him,” said Moses. “I think the more it becomes routine, the easier it will be.”

Ironically, the lessons shared about healthier food choices and exercise have benefited not just Caleb, but everyone in the home.

“It was especially helpful for me,” admitted Moses. “I was diagnosed as a diabetic four years ago and didn’t know much about counting carbs. Somehow it’s easier to do something for others than for yourself. Now, Caleb and I are going through this together.”

It was an unexpected benefit from the field trip, noted Annika. “It feels great to know that we not only helped Caleb,” she said, “but everyone in the home.”

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