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The Nurse and Diabetes Care

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World Diabetes Day Nurses play a vital role in the fight against rising rates of diabetes

Global diabetes prevalence is rising, with one-in-11 (463 million) adults currently living with the condition worldwide. Nurses play a key role in helping people with diabetes understand and manage their condition. However, the global shortfall of 5.9 million nurses is leaving many without the care they need. People either living with diabetes or at risk of developing type 2 diabetes may be unable to avoid life-changing complications – such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, loss of sight and limb amputation.

Nurses are vital in supporting people living with diabetes. They and the person they support are often the most important people involved in diabetes care. Nurses not only help to administer medication, such as life-saving insulin, but also offer important health and psychological advice to help people tackle the daily challenges that a life-long chronic condition can bring. Moreover, they are often the ones who build the community support networks that many with diabetes rely on for guidance and reassurance.

Nurses provide valuable dietary and lifestyle advice to help people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes to help reduce their risk and nurses play an important role in raising awareness of the warning signs and symptoms to help ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Education is the cornerstone of healthcare. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) advocates for sharing diabetes information and best practice widely to provide health professionals with the understanding and skills to provide optimal care and support for people with diabetes.

As part of this year’s WDD campaign, nurses and healthcare professionals can freely access the IDF School of Diabetes course on the role of the diabetes educator until the end of the year. The course is certified by the European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (EACMME), with participants earning an EACCME credit and a course certificate.

It is critical for governments and healthcare systems to recognise the growing global impact of diabetes. Nurses are a key component of the response to the associated challenges. However, they will only be able to fully perform their role with sufficient investment in education, training and recruitment.

We are approaching the centenary of the discovery of insulin, on which many people with diabetes depend to manage their diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes need insulin to survive. It is imperative that the next steps to tackle the global diabetes pandemic deliver real change to ensure that people with diabetes receive the support they require to manage their diabetes and avoid its associated life-changing complications.

Prof. Andrew Boulton, President of the International Diabetes Federation


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I wholeheartedly agree with your comment about the invaluable and instructive support for diabetes patients given by so many nurses. I was diagnosed Type 1 in March 1950 when the care, compassion and helpfulness of the nursing staff at the Lawn Road branch of the Royal Free Hospital was of great assistance to my parents, to me and my siblings. I am a visiting lecturer to a couple of medical schools in London where I talk about how I have been fortunate to lived with this insidious disease for over seventy years without suffering any of the serious complications that I have witnessed in many diabetic friends and colleagues. Although I am often told that it is a credit to me that is not so. It is entirely to the credit of nursing staff in those early days because of the firm and resolute information my parents were given and was passed on to me by the ward sister and her nursing staff in the Men's Medical Ward of the Royal Free Hospital all those years ago. A standout example is the support Sister Webb gave by allowing my mother to inject her with distilled water so my mother would have some form of injection techniques before I was discharged. That is a story that still makes me feel emotional when I relay it to student nurses and doctors because I can remember just how painful injections were in those days. My wife and my siblings have stuck steadfastly to the advice we were given by helpful nursing staff during the many stays I had back in the Royal Free and it is to them that I owe so much, not lest life itself. It is a great honour to tell students and others how grateful I am and to assure them of the great service that they perform on behalf of all diabetes. For us it is just a case of listening and reacting.
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