Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, supported Diabetes UK on Monday 15 November as the leading health charity launched a report in Parliament to coincide with World Diabetes Day (14 November) calling for improved care for older people with diabetes in residential homes.
The report, Diabetes in care homes – Awareness, screening, training, found that one care home resident with diabetes is admitted to hospital every 25 minutes and that six out of ten care homes in England, that have residents with diabetes, fail to provide any training to their staff about the condition. It also revealed less than a quarter (23 per cent) of care homes screen residents for diabetes on admission, and fewer than a third (28 per cent) screen for the condition on an annual basis. This missed screening may mean as many as 13,500 care home residents in the UK could have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes and be at increased risk of complications associated with condition such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.
Alex said: “With an ageing population and recent data showing no halt to the ever increasing numbers of those being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, older people particularly could face a bleak future of failing care. It is vital all care home staff in Stockton are trained about diabetes to enable them to care for the most vulnerable people in society. This is why I am supporting Diabetes UK this World Diabetes Day.”
Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “These report findings are an indictment of the standards of diabetes care provided by a worrying number of our country’s care homes. To discover that many homes fail to provide any training to their staff or screen for this common yet serious condition is truly alarming.”
Basic training for care home staff should include how to identify symptoms, recognise and treat hypoglycaemia (‘hypos’), measure and monitor blood glucose levels, administer insulin safely, and understand the importance of dietary timings and requirements as well as regular physical activity.
More than half of care homes (54 per cent) felt the local authority could do more to provide encouragement, information and guidance to offer effective diabetes care, and nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of local authorities had not made an assessment of the needs of older people with diabetes in their area.
Diabetes UK is calling for care homes to implement the recommendations in its guidance document Good Clinical Practice Guidelines for Care Home Residents with Diabetes. This includes screening new residents for diabetes on admission and all residents at two yearly intervals; for all people with diabetes in care homes to have an individualised care plan tailored to their needs; and for all care home managers to put in place appropriate diabetes-specific training for all staff.