Self care is vital to help tackle the country’s biggest health challenge

November 13, 2020


Diabetes is one of the country’s biggest health challenges with more than 3.1 million people diagnosed with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in England. It’s a condition that can ruin lives and cause deadly complications but as Faye Edwards argues, it’s never been easier to access support to self-care.

Not only is diabetes a leading cause of premature mortality with over 22,000 additional deaths each year, but it also doubles an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease. The cost of diabetes to the NHS budget exceeds £10 billion every year and this is expected to grow dramatically over the next 20 years. Recent research has shown that people with diabetes are at a higher risk of complications should they contract Covid-19.

But as we celebrate National Self Care Week, the good news for people with diabetes is that it has never been easier to stay in control of their diabetes and prevent life changing complications. The key to this is supportive, holistic diabetes education.

Learning how to lead a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise, manage medications, maintain good mental wellbeing and how to prevent long term complications is fundamental to ensuring that people feel confident in managing day to day life with diabetes, and to ensure improvements in terms of weight loss, glycaemic control, and general wellbeing.

An innovative new service from the NHS in south London, Diabetes Book & Learn, allows people with diabetes access to education support courses at the click of a mouse. If you have diabetes you can refer yourself to the service via the website, or you can ask your GP or practice nurse to refer you. The Diabetes Book and Learn Website has a wide range of courses available to suit all needs, including a variety of language preferences and delivery modes including face to face or via a mobile app. Once referred, you can choose the most suitable option for you, or if you are unsure, our call centre team are on hand to help you decide.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic it has been crucial to ensure that the service continues to provide high quality support and education for people with diabetes. We have all had to adjust to receiving healthcare via digital means, whether that is online or over the phone. The Diabetes Book and Learn service has been agile in its response to the situation, moving face to face courses online and delivering them via video conference, and increasing the access to 1:1 diabetes education support delivered via telephone and mobile application.

The Diabetes Book and Learn service is the first of its kind, uniting diabetes education providers from across our region to offer a wide range of educational support options for people with diabetes, that would be impossible for one single organisation to achieve alone.

Now more than ever it is vital that all of us strive to live as healthily as possible, especially if we have a long-term condition such as diabetes. Receiving such a diagnosis in the current pandemic can be frightening and isolating – likewise, living with diabetes can feel physically and mentally exhausting. Education and support are key to providing a fresh perspective and confidence to people for whom living with diabetes is tough. It can help with weight loss and mental wellbeing, provide much needed peer support, reassurance, and guidance.

The key to better health and diabetes control starts with education and good self-care – and all of this is available at the click of a mouse.

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Explore our Diabetes projects to learn more about how we support self-management to minimise the impact of diabetes on the lives of people with the condition.

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By Faye Edwards

Faye Edwards is the Health Innovation Network’s senior Project Manager in the Diabetes team.