Diabetes nurse shares vital advice on managing condition during Covid-19
Over 4.7 million people in the UK have diabetes, according to Diabetes UK. There are many types of diabetes and people living with it will all do different things to keep on top of their condition. People with diabetes are more vulnerable to being unwell if they were to get Covid-19 or other viral infections. This is because high blood sugar glucose levels can make it more difficult for the immune system to fight infections.
8-14 June is Diabetes Awareness Week. Beth Kelly, a Diabetes Specialist Nurses at Solent NHS Trust, believes that for those living with diabetes, managing the condition correctly is vital.
Beth said: “It is really important to remember that whilst there are things you cannot change which may increase your risk, such as your age, there are many things you can do to keep yourself safe.”
Beth is part of Solent’s community diabetes team, which provides quality, safe and comprehensive diabetes care. The team is there to help coach and champion people living with and affected by diabetes, such as those caring for people with diabetes.
She said: “A big part of our job is supporting people with diabetes so they can learn the skills that empower them to live normal lives – for example, so they can exercise confidently, travel safely, participate in religious festivals that are special to their faith or with support during pregnancy.”
The team works with other healthcare professionals to provide those with diabetes comprehensive support, such as specialist dietitians, psychotherapists, podiatrists, health visitors, midwives, social workers, community nurses and teachers. They also work very closely with the inpatient diabetes team to ensure continuity of care between acute hospitals and community settings.
“Diabetes is not just solely about what you eat and giving injections, which I think would spring to most people’s minds,” she said. It is also a life-changing diagnosis, and there are a lot of things people with diabetes have to do differently in their day to day life.
“We try to educate and empower people about their diabetes, in order to allow them to self-manage their condition at home and make the best health decisions for them, at that particular moment in their life.
“Having a diagnosis of diabetes has a huge impact on someone’s life and can affect every part of it. It is vitally important to remember that we are still here should you be worried at all about anything. The whole team are here to help and although a lot of things may not be face-to-face at present, we still have a lot of ways to support you virtually.”
Beth’s advice on managing your diabetes
- Have your sick day rules to hand – keep them saved on your phone or fridge for when you need them
- Monitor your glucose levels – look at your numbers, try to work out patterns and trends and make small changes to things, one at a time, so you can look back and work out what helped
- Have hypo (low blood glucose) treatments to hand – ensure you have access to food or drink that will increase blood glucose levels
- Seek support – make use of the huge number of online platforms available to people living with diabetes such as social media sites, and websites
- Ensure you attend your GP and retinal screening appointments for your annual screening when you can.
- Check you have access to blood ketone testing meter and ketone strips and that they are in date.