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Warning on poor care for older people with diabetes

More than 22,000 admissions a year from care homes

Adrian O'Dowd

Monday, 15 November 2010

One care home resident with diabetes is admitted to hospital every 25 minutes because of poor screening and training, according to a report published today by charity Diabetes UK.

Diabetes in care homes - Awareness, screening, training, says that there are more than 22,000 admissions each year among older people with diabetes from care homes.

The report is being launched today in parliament to coincide with World Diabetes Day yesterday.

Diabetes UK sent Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and survey questions to 500 local authority and NHS run care homes and a voluntary survey to 500 private or voluntary run care homes – these are not subject to FOI requests.

The results showed that six out of ten care homes in England, which have residents with diabetes, failed to provide any training for their staff about the condition.

Results also showed that less than a quarter (23%) of care homes screened residents for diabetes on admission, and fewer than a third (28%) screened for the condition on an annual basis.

The charity estimated this meant 13,500 care home residents in the UK could have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes and be at increased risk of complications associated with condition.

More than half of care homes (54%) said they felt the local authority could do more to provide encouragement, information and guidance to offer effective diabetes care, and nearly two thirds (62%) of local authorities had not made an assessment of the needs of older people with diabetes in their area.

Diabetes UK recommended that care home staff’s basic training should include:

  • how to identify symptoms
  • recognise and treat hypoglycaemia
  • measure and monitor blood glucose levels
  • administer insulin safely
  • understand the importance of dietary timings and regular physical activity.

The charity also called on 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 and for all care home managers to put in place appropriate diabetes-specific training for all staff.

The charity also wants the Care Quality Commission to make diabetes training a part of any care home's registration requirements.

Diabetes UK chief executive Barbara Young, said: “These report findings are an indictment of the standards of diabetes care provided by a worrying number of our country's care homes.

“We estimate as many as a quarter of care home residents in England, around 56,000, have diabetes. To discover, therefore, that many homes fail to provide any training to their staff or screen for this common yet serious condition is truly alarming.

“Even the most basic training and awareness can have a huge impact on improving the quality of life for thousands of society's most vulnerable people by preventing the complications of diabetes as well as reducing costs to the NHS.”

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