National Diabetes Week happens every year in mid-June. It offers a timely reminder about the challenges that people living with the condition, and those who care for them, must face on a daily basis. The initiative goes as far back as the 1930s, when it was founded by prominent British physician R.D. Lawrence and The War of the Worlds author H. G. Wells, who were both diabetic themselves.
Some of the aims of the original week included increasing awareness of diabetes, raising funds and encouraging people to seek support and share their experiences. These worthy aims continue to this day. Here are six ideas for supporting and caring for people with diabetes in your care home community, which can be used in association with your digital care management software.
eMAR and medications
Diabetic people rely on medications to keep their blood sugar levels healthy and to tackle any associated symptoms, such as excessive thirst, weight loss, frequent urination, ulcers and fatigue. There can be quite a few different types of medication to stay on top of, which is where access to an eMAR is crucial. Carers can keep track digitally of what medications are given and when, and whether people need to have oral tablets, injections, liquid medicine etc. Side-effects can also be recorded and changes in prescriptions noted.
Regular exercise is highly beneficial for people with diabetes, as well as anyone wanting to keep their weight down and increase their cardio-vascular strength. So, organise regular exercise sessions in your care home. These can range from gentle strolls around the grounds and seated yoga to dance evenings and aerobics – whatever your residents can manage and are happy to join in. Anything that gets people moving can only be a bonus, and such events are simple to organise using care management software.
Healthy eating goes hand-in-hand with exercise. This is particularly crucial to diabetic people, who can often see dramatic improvements in their condition after following a healthier diet. You can get a lot of dietary advice from specialist nutritionists about what types of foods diabetic people can benefit from. Incorporate these into your meal planning and ask your catering teams to prioritise diabetic-friendly food when they place their orders for ingredients. Digital care features, such as fluid intake and weight loss monitoring tools, can also help carers track what diabetic residents are eating and drinking – and the results that any dietary changes may have on their state of health.
Feet can be affected by diabetes, and require careful care and attention. It is another good idea to invite a specialist podiatrist into your care home to look after the feet of your residents with diabetes. They will be able to keep an eye on their condition, spot any potential problems at an earlier stage and offer expert advice and support. If they can be given access to your digital care management system, they can add their own updates and reports to individual residents’ records for cohesive care between all parties. Or they can send in reports and a member of the care home staff can upload the details on their behalf.
Another vulnerable part of the body for diabetic people is eyesight and the eyes in general. This is because high blood sugar can damage the retina, or back of the eye and potentially lead to total sight loss. Again, inviting an optician to come to the care home regularly to give all residents eye tests can be an excellent way of catching problems early. Encourage residents to let your staff know about any blurred vision or other eyesight concerns sooner, rather than later, so the cause can be investigated and symptoms treated.
Sharing is caring
Finally, a key stated aim of the original Diabetes Week was to provide opportunities for people living with diabetes to share their experiences and seek support from each other and diabetes specialists. Why not set up a regular meeting in your care home for people living with diabetes, or with an interest in the condition to do just that? You could invite speakers, ask for people’s thoughts about diet, exercise, medications and lifestyle etc. It can feel much easier living with a difficult condition if you can connect with others and share thoughts, experiences and emotions.