Diabetes Ireland: Online supports bring peace of mind in face of pandemic

Expert advice, webinars and virtual workshops on daily diabetes management are helping ease concerns of at-risk groups isolated due to Covid-19
Diabetes Ireland: Online supports bring peace of mind in face of pandemic

Parents of children with diabetes are among those whose concerns have been heightened during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Thankfully, a range of supports and online advice on diagnosis, daily diabetes management, diet and exercise are all readily available.  Picture: iStock

Help is at hand for anyone seeking advice on any daily diabetes management, thanks to Diabetes Ireland's series of online supports and education programmes.

These supports include the Diabetes SMART 55-minute online series of videos, quizzes and visual tools, the CODE virtual community groups, a 9-to-5 helpline and other supports listed here in this article. While the Covid-19 pandemic has added to the concerns of all those with questions around diabetes, expert advice is readily available.

Healthy lifestyle helps manage diabetes

Diabetes is a serious health issue with approximately 225,000 people living with the condition in Ireland. It can be managed well, however, by leading a healthy lifestyle, taking medication and with regular support and education from your GP or diabetes healthcare team.

In these times, living with diabetes is not easy as COVID-19 has brought extra challenges for everyone but especially for people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes who are in the ‘at risk group’ for COVID-19. It is crucial for a person with diabetes to have optimal control of their condition, so they are best protected in the event of any illness. Optimising diabetes management requires daily decision-making regarding food choices, activity levels and taking medication. 

You can live a full and active life with diabetes. Managing your health requires daily decision-making regarding food choices, activity levels and taking medication. Picture: iStock
You can live a full and active life with diabetes. Managing your health requires daily decision-making regarding food choices, activity levels and taking medication. Picture: iStock

However, with the right help, advice and support, there is no reason why Irish people with diabetes cannot live life to the full. Diabetes Ireland, the national charity for people with Diabetes since 1967, provides support, education and motivation to everyone affected by diabetes in addition to advice received from their diabetes healthcare team.

Over the past 10 months, Diabetes Ireland has had to evolve and move many of its education services online. This was because almost the entirety of its education services were previously delivered face-to-face. Not to be beaten by COVID 19, Diabetes Ireland has now developed a range of virtual services that are easily available online. 

 One new development has been the introduction of education webinars for people living with diabetes and their families. Since October 2020, we have held 5 webinars to date, all of which have been extremely well attended with very positive feedback from attendees. The aim of the webinars is to provide people with practical information around the challenges of living with diabetes at this time. 

They are delivered by doctors, nurses and dietitians covering a wide range of relevant topics. For 2021 we plan on hosting monthly education webinars. The first of these will be held on February 24th and will be for adults living with Type 1 diabetes. Registration is available through the Diabetes Ireland website www.diabetes.ie. Additional webinars will be held throughout the year with topics for people with Type 2 diabetes and parents of children with Type 1 diabetes so do keep an eye on the website.

Group education for those living with Type 2 diabetes

If you have been recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes there is a strong chance that you will not have received any education on how to effectively manage your condition on a day to day basis. Or perhaps, you are living with Type 2 diabetes for a few years and you feel you may need a refresher course to help you improve your daily diabetes management.

 People seeking support and information on Type 2 diabetes can attend the free course entitled CODE (Community Orientated Diabetes Education), a group education programme hosted by Diabetes Ireland and supported by the HSE. Picture: iStock
People seeking support and information on Type 2 diabetes can attend the free course entitled CODE (Community Orientated Diabetes Education), a group education programme hosted by Diabetes Ireland and supported by the HSE. Picture: iStock

Diabetes Ireland has just launched its long-standing group education programme for people with Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes as a virtual programme which can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home. The course is called CODE (Community Orientated Diabetes Education. Pre-COVID, CODE was normally delivered in community group settings. In recent months, we have adapted the programme so that it can be facilitated online via the zoom platform. It is free to attend and supported by the HSE.

The programme is facilitated by one of our Diabetes Nurses or Dietitians and is delivered over four, two-hour sessions. Group interaction and discussion is encouraged as all aspects of living with Type 2 diabetes are discussed. 

Participants get support from others living with Diabetes as they share their knowledge and experience of living with diabetes for the benefit of others in the group. 

For further information or to book a place on this education course you can register online on www.diabetes.ie or alternatively telephone Diabetes Ireland on 01-842 8118 or email: info@diabetes.ie 

Online Type 2 diabetes education to do at your convenience 

If you would prefer not to take part in a group session, don’t despair as we also have an online diabetes education programme called “Diabetes Smart”, which is designed to help people living with Type 2 diabetes and Pre-diabetes manage their condition in daily life.

The programme is a 55-minute online series of videos, quizzes and visual tools that you can watch and participate in, from the comfort of your own home and at your own pace. Diabetes SMART is divided into 5 modules that explain:

  • Types of Diabetes (5 minutes);
  • Healthy Eating (20 minutes);
  • Exercise (10 minutes);
  • Diabetes Medications (10 minutes);
  • Associated Complications (10 minutes).

Diabetes Smart provides practical information such as visuals of carbohydrate food portion sizes using everyday utensils to help identify correct portion sizes, tips to reduce portion sizes and advice on reading food labels and how to shop wisely. You can also check your starting fitness levels and be guided on the level of exercise that is recommended, view videos on warm-up exercises and identify barriers for exercise and ways to overcome those barriers. 

Diabetes Smart also includes information on medication, managing high and low blood glucose levels, how to avoid complications of Diabetes and information regarding a medical annual review. For more information see www.diabetes.ie.

Diabetes Ireland also provides support and information via a helpline which is open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, telephone 01-842 8118 or you can email info@diabetes.ie with your query. In 2020, our diabetes helpline dealt with approximately 6000 calls, a lot of which were individual health concerns related to COVID requiring healthcare professional input.

From these calls, we were able to identify the most frequently asked questions and concerns of people with diabetes and we developed a Covid & Diabetes Management Section on www.diabetes.ie which is updated regularly as HSE information changes. Over 30,000 people accessed the section last year for information on how to manage their condition during Covid. Our website provides a fountain of information on all aspects of living with diabetes so don’t delay and pay a visit today.

Guide to daily foot care

Another essential aspect of diabetes management is foot care. A person with diabetes needs to look after their feet daily and have an annual foot assessment by a doctor, nurse or podiatrist to check their circulation and sensation. This is due to the fact that long term high blood glucose levels may potentially cause nerve ending damage and poor circulation making feet susceptible to injury and infection. 

Diabetes Ireland’s Care Centres in Cork and Dublin are open 5 days a week 9am-5pm during these COVID times where you can make an appointment to see one of our podiatrists in a safe environment. Telephone Cork Care Centre (021 4274229) or Dublin (01 8428118) for an appointment.

Diabetes Ireland is a member-based charity who needs your support to ensure we can help you and every person in Ireland living with diabetes. Become a member today and avail of our many benefits including delivery of our members magazine with lots of tips and advice to your door, preferential fees for our Care Centre services and ongoing education and support. To become a member ring 01 8428118 or visit www.diabetes.ie

By becoming a member in 2021, you will help us to: 

  • Maintain our helpline so we are available for people with concerns and queries;
  • Increase our online presence and develop a number of online awareness campaigns that increase understanding of diabetes and its impact;
  • Deliver a range of education webinars to our community ensuring there is content that will be of benefit for everyone whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes;
  • Deliver 30 virtual Type 2 diabetes Code programmes and a carbohydrate counting programme for people with Type 1 diabetes so they can access CGM technology and update Diabetes Smart to make it more easily accessible for users; 
  • Keep our Care Centres open in Dublin and Cork and ensure that people with diabetes can be seen for both eyecare and footcare screening;
  • Advocate for improved HSE diabetes services nationwide and enable us to tackle the issues that are important to our community.

BECOME A MEMBER OF DIABETES IRELAND TODAY; WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT NOW MORE THAN EVER. www.diabetes.ie  

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