Diabetes care home audit reveals worrying results

Tue, 08 Oct 2013
Almost a fifth of UK care home residents with diabetes who self-medicate are not checked to ensure they have taken their medication, according to findings from the first ever National Care Home Diabetes Audit.

The survey results showed that one in 10 care home residents have diabetes, a figure which is considerably lower than previous research showing the figure to be closer to one in four of all care home residents.

But they also revealed that just over 17% cent of care homes do not check whether residents who self-medicate for diabetes have taken their medicine, which for vulnerable people with diabetes, especially those on insulin, is vital for preventing complications such as hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and diabetic coma.

Over 60% of the 2,043 premises polled also did not have a designated member of staff with responsibility for diabetes management; nearly two thirds of homes had no policy on screening for diabetes; and more than a third (35%) did not have a written policy for managing hypoglycaemia.

Furthermore, more than a third of residents (35.17 per cent) surveyed did not know about the signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia.

Professor Alan Sinclair, audit lead and director of the Institute of Diabetes for Older People (IDOP), said: "We know care home staff are working hard to care for their residents, but it was sad and concerning to discover some of the results. Especially, the fact that 17.3 per cent of homes had no system in place to examine whether those who self-medicate for diabetes have taken their medication. We encourage self-medication but it needs to be checked in a care setting, especially."

He added: "However, this audit has the potential to improve care for older people with diabetes living in care homes in England, and give insight on how to provide staff with the training and support that they need, as well as assisting managers and policymakers to allocate resources."

The audit was carried out by the Institute of Diabetes for Older People (IDOP) in partnership with ABCD (Association of British Clinical Diabetologists) and other key collaborators.
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