World Diabetes Day, celebrated on November 14 each year, serves as an opportunity for the international diabetes community to unite and draw attention to issues of utmost importance to the diabetes world. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) initiated the world’s largest diabetes awareness campaign in 1991with the aim of keeping the metabolic disease firmly in the public and political spotlight.
In 2020, the World Diabetes Day campaign focuses on promoting the crucial role that nurses play in supporting people living with diabetes. As direct caregivers, nurses and medical support staff are on the front line of diabetes care. With the right expertise, they make a life-changing difference creating a more accessible, high quality and personalised environment for people with diabetes in need.
This year continues to be an exceptional and challenging year for everyone. The ongoing pandemic also has a huge impact on diabetes care. People with diabetes are at a similar risk of contracting COVID-19 as the general population, but face a higher risk of complications during the course of an infection and should therefore take extra precautions to avoid contact. This situation can cause mental health problems, can lead to loneliness, isolation, and anxiety. In times like these, nurses play an even greater role in ensuring that everyone living with diabetes is given the support they need to manage their condition.
Nurses play a key role in1
Diagnosing diabetes early to ensure prompt treatment.
Providing self-management training and psychological support for people with diabetes to help prevent complications.
Tackling the risk factors for type 2 diabetes to help prevent the condition.
Roche: What is the role of nurses and care specialists in diabetes care?
Molly: Our biggest role is to provide support and education, to be there for people, and to discuss the best option for each individual. We are well versed in looking at the person as a whole rather than just the diabetes part. While we have the knowledge of pathophysiology and medication, we are also able to provide lifestyle education and support, or can assist in navigating insurance matters.
Which new challenges do people with diabetes face in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic?
With diabetes, daily routine is important because it adds an extra layer of predictability. When your daily routine is affected - all of a sudden you are a teacher for your children, you don’t have the same access to food or exercise as you had before – it impacts your diabetes management. At the start of the pandemic doctors’ offices shut down and there was basically no outpatient care. The lockdown, social distancing and limited access to healthcare caused mental and emotional stress. People with diabetes felt even more alone. They have to make their own therapy decisions all day, every day. But diabetes means so much more than just monitoring your blood sugar. They also have to keep up with routine appointments that are absolutely vital to them, like eye and feet exams or check-ups at the dentist which was a substantial challenge.
What challenges do nurses and care specialists face because of the pandemic?
The challenge for us is to stay flexible and be more creative with suggestions and support. Now people with diabetes definitely need more support around mental and emotional well-being. Many are now cooking at home who weren't doing that before. They have to find new places to exercise or to set up an exercise routine at home. These are all topics we are trained in, but they were not always in the focus.
As people adjust to the new normal of diabetes care. Will some of it stay?
I really hope so. The way healthcare is provided now shows that we are able to continue to deliver high-quality care remotely. My wish is that having more frequent digital touch points will stay. A video call or being able to chat quickly with your diabetes coach is a great option for in-between appointments. Also, the digital dialogue and the easy access to diabetes related data help decrease the burden of travel and time commitment for people with diabetes. Physical visits are important and should never go away. But hopefully, we will have a hybrid model where people have a choice of what works best for them.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us Molly, and for the insights you shared!
Therefore, we have interviewed Molly Wagman who is a trained Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist who provides support to people with diabetes online or over the phone. Four short questions about diabetes and the role of care specialists in times of crisis; four passionate answers on what it takes to help people maintain their daily diabetes management to enable them to live a regular and healthy life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Diabetes in numbers
According to current estimates of the International Diabetes Federation, approximately 463 million adults (20-79 years) were living with diabetes in 2019; by 2045 this number will rise to 700 million people. In 2019, 4.2 million died from diabetes and its complications like heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure.2
Our commitment to seamlessly connect care teams and people with diabetes
It is more important than ever for people with diabetes to be digitally connected to their care team and empowered in their self-management. Driven by its vision of integrated Personalised Diabetes Management, Roche has established an open ecosystem that allows people with diabetes to track and selectively share relevant health data and insights from their diabetes management solutions with their care team. Care teams are able to monitor the effect of medical treatment, diet and lifestyle changes on blood glucose levels. Having access to health data is especially beneficial in times when face-to-face consultations are limited. With its set-up, the open ecosystem is helping care teams and people with diabetes to continue the dialogue in the current COVID-19 pandemic.