Face-to-face support sessions for people at risk of developing diabetes in Kent and Medway are continuing ‘virtually’ during the coronavirus pandemic.
The online National Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP) sessions complement the digital support that is already available as part of the programme.
Video conferences provide people with the same information, but the sessions are delivered on a smaller scale and via a webcam instead of in-person.
This allows the patients to get the information and advice about their diet, exercise and lifestyle, without the risk of potential exposure to coronavirus.
The normal structured education available for existing and newly diagnosed diabetic patients across Kent and Medway has also had to be paused due to the pandemic.
Instead providers across been offering virtual sessions to ensure patients are best equipped to improve their lifestyle when living with diabetes.
Kent and Medway’s Diabetes Clinical Lead Dr Victor Oguntolu said: “It’s important for diabetes patients to attend their routine appointments, and so it’s good that we have found a way to continue both the prevention and education programmes during the current pandemic.
“If you are at all concerned about your diabetes though, don’t delay, contact your GP practice or diabetes team.”
There are four distinct symptoms to look out for which could indicate diabetes. These are referred to as the four Ts.
- Toilet – going to the toilet a lot
- Thirsty – unable to quench your thirst
- Tired – feeling more tired than usual
- Thinner – losing weight
Dr Oguntolu, a consultant diabetologist at Medway NHS Foundation Trust, said: “If you are experiencing these symptoms, don't delay, contact your GP practice or NHS 111.”
Booking on to the various diabetes education programmes across Kent and Medway is set to become simpler due to the future introduction of a structured education booking hub.
The hub will make it easier for all patients across Kent and Medway to receive the education when and where they like, and it will streamline the process for healthcare professionals making the referrals too.
Dr Oguntolu added: “This will save time for the healthcare professionals referring patients to the variety of programmes across Kent and Medway. They will only need to make one referral to the hub and the hub will do the rest of the work.”
In a further development for tackling diabetes in Kent and Medway, two diabetes prevention programme facilitation officers have been employed.
Their role will primarily be to directly refer patients onto the prevention programme on behalf of GP practices, among other things.
These officers are currently developing their knowledge of the programme and other areas, so that they are well-equipped to assist GP practices with the National Diabetes Prevention Programme and other diabetes-related information, once it is deemed safe for them to move around the county.
New online tools for people living with diabetes are now available on the NHS to help people manage their condition during the coronavirus pandemic.
The three new services allow people to manage their condition online, with a range of videos and training available on each app for both children and adults.
- Digibete: For children and young people with Type 1 diabetes and their families the DigiBete App and website offers a range of awareness, education, training and support resources.
- MyType1Diabetes: For adults with Type 1 diabetes myType1diabetes.nhs.uk includes videos and eLearning courses, to help people understand more about their Type 1 diabetes and increase their confidence in how to manage it.
From later this year, people with Type 2 will be able to access ‘Healthy Living for People with Type 2 Diabetes’, which provides users with the skills and knowledge to manage their Type 2 diabetes effectively.
There are nearly 100,000 people in Kent living with diabetes (2018-19 data). Of those 8,275 are Type 1 diabetics and 90,085 Type2.
Paul Austin, one of Kent and Medway’s Diabetes Prevention Facilitation Officers, who is himself a Type 1 diabetic, has been using the MyType1diabetes platform myType1diabetes.nhs.uk
Paul said: “It is a great place to begin learning about how the body can be affected by diabetes, as well as for experienced patients to brush up on their knowledge.
“There are e-learning areas that are really interactive to aid those newly diagnosed, as well as a great resource area that concentrates on specific subjects e.g pregnancy/exercise/young adults/coronavirus, so are tailored to what you want to learn about.
“I particularly like the insulin pump learning module as I didn’t really know much about them. It’s amazing how far science is moving!”
“As a 16-year Type 1 diabetic, I found this digital forum really useful and would highly recommend a visit.”
Recent findings show that people with diabetes face a significantly higher risk of dying with COVID-19 but better management of the condition can help improve control and lead to better outcomes.
NHS investment in the technology means that patients will be offered advice on treatment and care, as well as training to adopt healthy behaviours on diet and exercise.
Online appointments, routine discussions with GPs and a dedicated helpline for those treated with insulin are among a range of measures that the NHS has already adopted so that diabetes care can go ahead as normal.
The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme is also being delivered remotely using platforms such as Microsoft Teams to continue to help those at risk of Type 2 diabetes to reduce their risk.