April saw the first ever national NHS Diabetes Prevention Week to raise awareness of type 2 diabetes and how to prevent it.
Nursing teams from across the NHS revelled in a day out of the everyday working environment to promote themselves and the work they do. Our team was no exception.
We couldn’t wait to hang out the bunting, iron our branded t-shirts, dust off the ‘not-so-mobile’ display boards, adorn the stickers and tweet the associated hashtags, such as #PreventingType2.
As a team of diabetes specialists, we can never ignore the astounding figures that are highlighted every day in the media about diabetes.
Around 3.5 million people in England have type 2 diabetes and it is a leading cause of preventable sight loss in people of working age and a major contributor to kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke. It propels our enthusiasm for health education and promotion.
Our inpatient colleagues know all too well, that one in six of all people in hospital have diabetes, and that as well as the cost to individuals, type 2 diabetes treatment costs £8.8 billion a year. The number of people in Southampton with type 2 diabetes has reached 12,954; which is why, as a team, we were so keen to promote Diabetes Prevention Week.
“We felt there was little else we could do but go out and perform actual risk assessments among the general public”
In the run-up to the week, we emailed the GP surgeries in our area with a snapshot of the statistics and what they could do in-house to promote the week. We included details of the Diabetes UK Know Your Risk website and a link to how they could order a Diabetes Prevention Week toolkit for use within their waiting rooms.
We also included some ideas on how they could promote awareness, such as running ‘at risk clinics’ and promoting the NHS Health Check. We also reminded them of the ability to refer to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP), which is specifically for people at high risk of type 2 diabetes.
We used social media and our trust website to provide diabetes advice and information, as well as to promote an event we ran at a local supermarket to speak to the public about type 2 diabetes. We felt there was little else we could do but go out and perform actual risk assessments among the general public.
Lots of planning goes into these days. We need to plan the staffing and clinics around it, making sure clinical work is covered first and foremost. This means involving our managers, our fabulous admin team, the diabetes specialist nurse team, our amazingly knowledgeable dietitians, and of course the local peer support groups and Diabetes UK local reps that we work so closely with – and appreciate so much.
We carried out 48 risk assessments on people aged between 18 and 93 – including staff members from the Sainsbury’s café and our very own operational manager from the clinical commissioning group, who came to support us.
Of those assessed, 77% were at either moderate or high risk, which I think shocked us all. But we came away knowing that we had potentially changed the journey of some of those people.
“It was a great way to raise awareness of type 2 diabetes and how to prevent it”
Those at risk were given some leaflets and pointed in the direction of further advice and support. We also made them aware of the NHS DPP and gave them a letter to take to their GP, which said that they had been assessed as high risk, and so might benefit from some blood tests or being on the GP’s radar.
One lady we spoke to came to show us her trolley of healthy items after having a chat with us. It was great knowing that we made a difference to her weekly shop that day and potentially supported her in some lifestyle changes.
Even my four year old daughter got involved in the action by wearing an ‘Ask me about Diabetes Prevention Week’ sticker to school and telling male teaching staff they would get type 2 diabetes because they “were boys and old”. Not quite right – but I can’t help but smile that my little one did her bit too.
We really enjoyed taking part in the campaign. It was a great way to raise awareness of type 2 diabetes and how to prevent it, and to promote the work we are doing locally to contribute. We look forward to the next campaign, follow us on @SolentDSNs to see what we get up to next.
Bethany Kelly is community diabetes specialist nurse, Southampton City, Solent NHS Trust