Celebrate Diabetes Week 2021

Laura Wilson, the Module Leader & Sandra Macrury, Professor of Clinical Diabetes with the University of the Highlands and Islands and a Consultant Diabetologist with NHS Highland reflect on Diabetes week 2021.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that there are nearly 60 million people living with diabetes in the European region alone and the prevalence of diabetes is increasing among all ages. Diabetes UK (2020) believe there are 4.8 million people across the UK alone with diabetes and some of these people are not even diagnosed yet. In Scotland this means there are about 312,000 people with diabetes, nearly 6% of the population (Scottish Public Health Observatory, 2021).

Some people call diabetes the ‘epidemic of the century’ (Kharrpubi & Darwish, 2015). This presents huge challenges for global healthcare systems and healthcare and social care professionals to ensure that we have the understanding and knowledge to develop multi-disciplinary services to support people living with diabetes, to minimise the complications associated with diabetes and improve physical and mental health and well-being of patients and families.

The current coronavirus pandemic has been very challenging for everyone, however people living with diabetes face an increased risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19. However, if diabetes is well managed and controlled the risk of developing severe symptoms and consequences can be reduced.

Laura Wilson says “as a community nurse within a remote island area in the Western Isles, I see first-hand the daily challenges that people living with diabetes face. It's vital that no matter what area healthcare and social care you work in that you know about diabetes. For example, you might be a nurse, a doctor, a dietician, a physiotherapist or care home manager and understanding how diabetes can affect nearly every system in the body including the psychological impacts of living with a long term condition will enhance the support patients receive to minimise the risk of developing complications associated with it.”

Laura continues “diabetes has been part of my nursing career within hospital and community care for years but diabetes has so much information and research that continues all the time making it hard to keep up with it all! Even during the coronavirus pandemic information and research on diabetes has continued; such as at Exeter University they have discovered that there may be differences in Type 1 diabetes in children depending what age they are diagnosed due to differences in numbers of immune cells. I love teaching the online Advanced Diabetes Module that UHI offers – it’s an excellent interactive way learn with and from others in many disciplines to increase knowledge about diabetes, including the different types of diabetes, how to minimise the risk of developing diabetes, reduce the complications associated with it and the different types of treatments available and try and keep up to date. I think everyone in health and social care should study this module to increase their awareness and knowledge of diabetes. Education is a key part of raising awareness and this week is Diabetes UK’s Diabetes Week 2021. It’s been lovely to hear from a recent graduate from the module who told me that they have really enjoyed the module and found the teaching team was very approachable and knowledgeable and they loved the weekly webinars.”

Professor Sandra MacRury, Professor of Clinical Diabetes with the University of the Highlands and Islands and a Consultant Diabetologist with NHS Highland says “The prevalence of diabetes is rising and currently around an average 5.6% of the population are affected increasing to up to 15% of people over the age of 65 years meaning that a range of health care practitioners and social care staff will have contact on a regular basis with people living with diabetes. Many of the complications of diabetes are preventable and supported self-management is key to good diabetes control and reduction in complications. It is crucial that support comes from staff who are up to date and well-informed around diabetes and the care and management of people living with all types of diabetes. The UHI Advanced Diabetes on-line module presents the ideal opportunity of learning and understanding more about this long-term condition, the associated multi-morbidity that crosses various clinical disciples and moreover to contribute to and have an overall impact on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the spectrum of people living with diabetes.”

Diabetes UK organises Diabetes Week 2021 – running 10th to 16th June 2021


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The next intake for the Advanced Diabetes module will be January 2022 – applications open now. Enquiries to: Dr Rachel Erskine – rachel.erskine@uhi.ac.uk

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