Diabetes should not be a barrier to successful ageing. I hope that all of us working in diabetes care have this as an ultimate goal. I believe that with focused, high-quality care being delivered across the country in health and social care sectors, we can achieve this aim.
I would like to draw primary care and community nurses' attention to a set of generic care principles that can be applied to the many care settings for older people with diabetes.
These comprise: a clinician mindset that aims to find a diagnosis for illness-related symptoms and not easily settle for non-specific presentation; a major emphasis on quality of life and wellbeing for each patient; the early and effective use of interventions that can be applied in community settings to avoid hospital admissions; a commitment by a health or social care team to improving or maintaining functional status; and an avoidance of ageism and a 'reductionist' approach to care.
The Institute of Diabetes for Older People is working with several key partners and a broad network of health and social care professionals, as well as diabetes service users, to develop a range of approaches, tools and guidelines to help ensure that older people with diabetes receive high quality, fully integrated health and social care.
This year, our priorities are to develop courses and learning resources to improve care home diabetes care, to work on understanding and counteracting the rapid decline into 'frailty' that can impact harshly on older people with diabetes.
We are keen to support strategies, particularly in primary care, that promote avoidance of hypoglycaemia. We are also working on projects around visual loss, footcare and end of life issues.
Please help support our work and help us support older people with diabetes.
To find out more or to join the national Older People Diabetes Network, visit our website: http://instituteofdiabetes.org
Professor Alan Sinclair, director, Institute of Diabetes for Older People