Diabetes Week kicks off on 11 June 2017, and this year the theme is: Know Diabetes. Fight Diabetes.  

While a lot of people have a good understanding of diabetes and how to manage it, many others aren’t getting the right help and support to look after their diabetes. 

Today, 65 people will die early from the condition and hundreds more will face life-changing complications that could have been avoided or delayed if they'd had the right knowledge and support to manage their diabetes. There are currently 12,924 patients in Swindon on the diabetes register which equates to a prevalence rate of 7.1%, higher than the England average of 6.6% (2015/16). 

Diabetes education courses make living with diabetes easier. Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, it can feel like there is a lot to learn. But going on a course can help you understand what diabetes is and how it affects your body.

People who have been on a course feel more confident about looking after their condition and are less likely to suffer complications. According to NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) everyone with diabetes should be offered structured education and it is also one of Diabetes UKs 15 health care essentials, these outline the minimum level of healthcare everyone with diabetes deserves and should expect.

Martin Sweet, 60, of Old Town, Swindon was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 2 years ago.  He attended the Living With Living Well course which is run by the Swindon Live Well Hub and teaches people about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, focusing on diet and exercise. 

Martin said “The course was friendly and welcoming. It gave me the chance to ask questions and meet people who are going through the same experiences as me and gave me the feeling that I was not alone.

“It came as a bit of a shock when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes but I now have a better understanding of my condition and what I need to do to manage it. 

“I have cut out all sugary foods and eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and feel much better now that my diet is under control”.

Since the course, Martin attends 3 gym sessions a week and cycles 3-4 times a week.  Since gaining better control of his diet and exercise, his sugar levels have been normal for the past three checks.

Everyone in the UK with diabetes should be offered a free diabetes course by their doctor, nurse or consultant. Whether you’re newly diagnosed or have had diabetes for a while, make sure you ask for a referral to a course.

Here in Swindon, there are courses available for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.  There is a dedicated website for Swindon diabetes patients at www.swindondiabetes.co.uk and details of all available education courses are listed there. 

These courses will teach you that no food is off limits, only how much and how often you can have it.  They will teach you how exercise helps you control your blood levels as well as your weight, what your type of medication is doing and why it is needed and what the side effects are, if any.  You will also meet others who want to know more about their diabetes, and find out how they are managing and what food they have found works for them.

Dr Ayo Oyinloye, Swindon Borough Council’s Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said: “People diagnosed with diabetes can live a healthy life if they manage their condition correctly. This involves eating healthily, exercising and using the right medication.

 

“One of the best ways to take control of your diabetes is by attending the structured education course. This course will empower people with the skills to cook and eat healthily; know the right type and level of exercise; give advice on the correct use of medication and raise awareness of complications of diabetes at an early stage. If you haven’t been on a structured diabetes education course, ask your GP or Diabetes Nurse for advice on how to register.”