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Lack of support for thousands of residents with diabetes in care homes

England’s first audit of diabetes in care homes shows many residents lack adequate diabetes support.
There are an estimated 37,625 people living in care homes that have a form of diabetes mellitus. The majority of care home residents (58%) are over the age of 85 years old. The audit reports that 10.4% of all care home residents have diabetes.
The audit, which was carried out by the Institute of Diabetes for Older People (IDOP) and the Association of British Clinical Diabetologists (ABCD), reviewed a number important areas of diabetes care within the homes.
The results demonstrated a worrying trend in a lack of adequate care for residents. One of the important care areas is assessment of hypoglycemia, which can lead to hospitalisation and even death in some cases. The audit found that over 35% of residents do not know how to spot hypos.
More than one in six homes (17%) lacked any policy for checking whether residents took their medication. For elderly residents with type 1 diabetes, for example, forgetting to take insulin dramatically increase the risk of ketoacidosis, a dangerous condition linked with high blood glucose levels that requires emergency treatment.
Whilst 1 in 10 care home residents have diabetes, the significant majority (63%) of care homes lack a staff member that is designated to have responsibility for managing residents’ diabetes.
Another worrying factor is that 37% of homes lacked a policy for screening its residents for type 2 diabetes. The later type 2 diabetes is diagnosed, the greater the risk of developing diabetes complications such as nerve disease, kidney disease and heart disease.
Barbara Young, Chief Executive of charity Diabetes UK, one of the organisations which supported the audit, said: “The findings of this first England-wide audit of care homes are deeply worrying. They show that far too many older and vulnerable people are being denied basic standards of diabetes care and this is something that needs to be addressed urgently.”

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