Type 2 diabetes is on the rise and the NHS has made tackling diabetes a major health priority.
In order to raise awareness, the NHS is introducing a range of local and national initiatives including the NHS Health Check, Healthy Living Pharmacy and the Diabetes Prevention Programme.
When it comes to diabetes, you and your pharmacy team will already be supporting customers and patients: medication support, healthy living advice plus helping to pick up on undiagnosed cases through identifying risk factors. This means everyone in the team can contribute to the care of this customer group and help improve their health and wellbeing.
Read why diabetes is an important health issue and how diabetes training for pharmacy staff can have a big impact on the health of your community.
Why focus on diabetes?
Diabetes affects over 4.5 million people in the UK with around 1 million individuals being unaware of their condition and therefore undiagnosed.
Treating diabetes is one of the NHS’s biggest costs:
- Diabetes medicines account for nearly 13% of the total cost of prescribing for England – more than any other condition.
- Over £10 billion – 10% of the NHS’s annual budget – is spent on treating diabetes and its complications.
- The cost of diabetes has doubled in the last ten years and is set to exceed £16 billion by 2035.
Each year in the UK, it is estimated that 24,000 people with diabetes die prematurely. Plus, there are more than 5000 amputations caused by diabetes each year – 80% of which are preventable.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes occurs when insulin (the hormone produced by the pancreas) is either impaired or is not being produced in enough quantities. This lack of effective insulin results in too much glucose (sugar) circulating in the blood.
There are 2 types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form affecting about 90% of people with diabetes. It appears gradually over the age of 40.
However, in most cases, type 2 diabetes is a ‘lifestyle’ disease caused by poor diet, being overweight or obese and not being active enough. The rise in obesity is therefore linked to the rise in type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Feeling very thirsty
- Urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night Feeling very tired
- Frequent infections and thrush
- Cuts or wounds that heal slowly
- Blurred vision
The onset of type 2 diabetes can be gradual. As a result, the signs of type 2 diabetes may not be immediately obvious. So, if it takes 10 years for a diagnosis, damage may have occurred before treatment starts. Therefore, diagnosing the disease as early as possible (and identifying risk factors) is key.
Type 2 Diabetes Complications
The complications of type 2 diabetes include:
- Eye damage (retinopathy)
- Foot problems
- Heart attack and stroke
- Kidney problems (nephropathy)
- Nerve damage (neuropathy)
- Gum disease
- Erectile dysfunction
Complications occur as a result of prolonged high sugar levels in the blood. The resulting high blood pressure can cause damage to blood vessels.
Risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes
Age, gender and ethnicity are all factors for developing diabetes which we cannot control. However, there are important lifestyle factors that can be easily addressed:
- A poor diet
- Low activity levels
- Excess weight
- Poor quality of sleep
There are factors that make some people more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes than others. Early testing of people with higher risk factors can make the condition more manageable and reduce complications.
How pharmacy can get involved
The pharmacy offers many services that can help people with diabetes, yet your customers may not know the full extent of this. Taking diabetes training for pharmacy staff will help you to promote your expertise in this area means customers can come to the pharmacy for professional and accessible advice on healthy living. As well as medications that will help them avoid developing diabetes or avoid complications if they already have the disease.
There are a number of campaigns and initiatives that pharmacy can hook onto to promote and extend the pharmacy’s diabetes offering. These campaigns, plus how to engage with customers, are covered in the diabetes training for pharmacy staff course:
NHS Health Check
The NHS health check helps identify undiagnosed people who may have diabetes and not know it. Some pharmacies already offer this service so why not start your own clinic? The health check includes a questionnaire, height, weight and blood pressure measurements plus a finger-prick blood test.
Smoking isn’t healthy plus smoking can worsen diabetes and it’s associated complications. Therefore, helping patients to quit smoking can help them live more healthily with diabetes.
Weight management service
Losing weight can help improve diabetes and blood sugar control plus it can also reduce the risk of someone going on to develop diabetes. Weight loss, diet and fitness advice is, therefore, a great way to support many aspects of a patient’s health.
NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme
The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme aims to raise awareness of type 2 diabetes and educate people on the complications associated with the condition. The programme helps identify who might be at risk plus what steps they can take to prevent it.
Engaging with customers
Remember to Make Every Contact Count (MECC) and use brief interventions to get the messages out. For diabetes, the focus should primarily be on healthy eating and cutting back on sugar plus being active.
Diabetes Training for Pharmacy Staff Course Overview
Mediapharm’s Healthy Living Diabetes Pharmacy training course will help you support your customers and patients with their diabetes. Our diabetes training for pharmacy staff course will also show you how to make the most of national and local campaigns. The focus is on type 2 diabetes and is primarily for health champions and support staff but is also suitable as a refresher for the whole team.
By the end of this course you will be able to:
- Recognise the role of pharmacy in supporting patients and customers with diabetes
- Promote your pharmacy’s expertise and availability to customers through POS
- Open up conversations about the condition
- Signpost customers to further support
This is a short duration course of just 20 minutes. The video content is optional but helps to accommodate different learning styles and therefore enhance the learning experience.Access the FREE eLearning Diabetes Course
Our courses will help you to advise and support customers and patients with their diabetes. Our training is online and flexible which makes it as easy as possible for pharmacy professionals to access alongside a demanding schedule.
This article was written on behalf of Mediapharm by Nicola Hasted from Pharmacy Mentor.