Nurse’s artwork inspires young diabetic patients across east Kent

The character Tinkerbell painted by children's diabetes nurse Jade Clark. Tinkerbell is sporting a diabetic monitoring kit, with a patch on her arm and she is holding the device that shows the results
Tinkerbell, painted by Jade Clark, with her diabetes monitoring equipment

Published on 12 October 2020

All you need is faith, trust and a little bit of pixie dust – so says Tinkerbell in Peter Pan.

But thanks to Jade Clark, a children’s diabetes nurse at East Kent Hospitals, the fairy favourite has one more important accessory – a diabetes monitoring kit. 

It’s part of a project to revamp the paediatric clinic room at the Paula Carr Diabetes Centre at the William Harvey Hospital to make it more welcoming for children and young people.

Jade painted a series of images featuring popular children’s characters, including Hulk, Princess Jasmine, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White, each with their own diabetes-related equipment. 

Hulk, Tinkerbell and Princess Jasmine are sporting a monitoring kit that records blood sugar levels via a patch on their arms, while Belle is reading a book of low-carb foods.

Her feathered friends are carrying an insulin pen, while Spiderman is holding special gel and tablets that can raise someone’s blood sugar if they are having a hypoglycaemic episode. 

The artwork took Jade a total of 61 hours of her own time to create, but she said it was worth it to see the reaction from her young patients and to create a more welcoming environment for them.

She said: “Being told you have diabetes can be very frightening for children and young people, and I wanted to do something to make them feel more at ease when they had to come to hospital appointments. 

“Some of them will not know anyone else with diabetes so to see pictures of characters they are familiar with, who are holding the same equipment they use every day, can be really reassuring.

“It was my vision to show all children that even with diabetes we can still be a glamorous princess or a hero. Diabetes does not and will not stop you achieving in life. 

“It’s proved really popular with our young people and acts as a real talking point so it was definitely worth all the effort.”

The children’s diabetes team is based at the Paula Carr Centre and supports children and young people across east Kent as well as on the children’s wards. They visit patients at home and school and provide telephone and email support.

The team work with children and young people up to the age of 19, when they move on to the adult service.