BERTIE - Beta Cell Education Resources for Training in Insulin and Eating

BERTIE stands for Beta Cell Education Resources for Training in Insulin and Eating
BERTIE stands for Beta Cell Education Resources for Training in Insulin and Eating

BERTIE is a structured diabetes education course that teaches people with type 1 diabetes how to manage insulin doses compared to carbohydrate intake.

It was created by the Bournemouth Diabetes and Endocrine Centre (BDEC) with the aim of teaching patients how to recognise and count carbohydrates, how to work out insulin doses, and how this affects blood glucose levels.

Participants are encouraged to solve problems individually to assess what works best for them, and learn what to do to stay healthy.

Is the BERTIE course only in Bournemouth?

The BERTIE course is taught at The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals (RBCH), but trained diabetes teams across 40 centres in the UK offer a programme based on BERTIE.

Can I attend the BERTIE course?

Anyone with type 1 diabetes who is over the age of 16 can attend the BERTIE course, while patients with type 2 diabetes who are treated with multiple daily injections (MDI) will also be considered.

Individuals looking to participate in the BERTIE course are required to be on MDI treatment involving fast-acting insulin with meals and a long-acting insulin.

Patients not being treated with MDI, such as those on twice daily injections, would be encouraged to switch to these before the course, but may still be included if possible.

What does the BERTIE course involve?

The BERTIE course involves attending a six-hour group programme once a week for four consecutive weeks.  It is led by a diabetes specialist nurse (DSN) and a diabetes dietitian.

As well as learning how to carb-count, and adjust insulin doses accordingly, participants will keep records of food intake, blood glucose levels and insulin administered between sessions.

How can I join the BERTIE programme?

You should consult your GP, DSN or consultant if you would like to be referred onto the BERTIE course. Aside from in Bournemouth, the other courses held across the country are not accredited, but most belong to the Diabetes Education Network and reiterate the philosophy.

Otherwise, which diabetes education courses are available to you will depend on where you live. It may be you live in a particular city where courses such as DAFNE are provided.

Does the BERTIE course work?

The RBCH report that over 80 per cent of participants meet their goals on the BERTIE course, while reductions in HbA1c levels are noted for up to six years afterwards. Many participants also report reductions in hypoglycemia that requires assistance from someone else.