A team of diabetes specialist nurses who set up a social media network have been on tour across the UK in a bid to showcase the work they do and recruit other nurses into the speciality, a member of the team explained to Nursing Times.
Bethany Kelly, who makes up one fifth of the Diabetes Specialist Nurse (DSN) Forum UK team, highlighted the success that the network has had in bringing together nursing professionals who specialise or have an interest in diabetes.
Other team members include founder Amanda Epps, Sarah Gregory, Susan Mason-Cave and Rebecca Watt.
“Because we know the diabetes population is growing so massively and many DSN posts are unfilled, part of the tour was to encourage recruitment”
The nurses have been working together since March last year to provide a social media-based platform for diabetes specialist nurses, midwives and dieticians, to be able to connect, share and grow as a community.
A closed Facebook group created by the team provides conference dates, new guidelines and the latest diabetes news to over 1200 members.
For the first time, the forum team underwent a “UK tour” this week, which included holding “mini conferences” and speeches at different venues across the UK.
Ms Kelly, who has been in nursing for 11 years and a diabetes specialist nurse for two, said: “It’s to highlight the great work the DSN’s are doing across the country and to give them a platform to show off the work they do.”
“Because we know the diabetes population is growing so massively and many DSN posts are unfilled, part of the tour was to encourage recruitment,” she told Nursing Times.
In total the nursing group travelled over 800 miles, visiting Cambridge, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Southampton, and finally London.
The idea was sparked at a diabetes meeting in Leicester. “At the time we thought it was a crazy idea and we’d never pull it off, but we did, and it has happened,” said Ms Kelly.
She explained how at each venue there was a “sub-set” of nursing professionals that led the conferences which had five speeches from different speakers at every city.
“We were encouraging practice nurses and community nurses to come along, who don’t necessarily know how to get into becoming a DSN”
A patient also attended each venue who explained their lived experience with diabetes. Ms Kelly noted one example, where the nursing professionals heard from a patient who talked to the room about the language used at the time of their diagnosis and how it could have been made easier for them.
She told Nursing Times: “We were encouraging practice nurses and community nurses to come along, who don’t necessarily know how to get into becoming a DSN, to encourage them into the role and network for potential jobs.”
“The evaluation forms from after the events show that people would be interested in changing their role as a result of the meetings and are saying it’s opened their eyes to the roll of the DSN,” she added.
“By 2025, Diabetes UK have said they expect five million people to have diabetes in the UK and I think it’s only going to become a larger problem and so the more DSNs we have, the better because they do make a huge difference to people with diabetes,” said Ms Kelly.
The team also won a Quality in Diabetes Care (QiC) Healthcare Professionals of the Year award last October for their efforts.
For more information about the forum and to see vlogs from the tour, follow the team @DSNForumUK.