For World Diabetes Day 2016, Diabetes Ireland hosted Ireland’s largest free Health & Wellbeing Exhibition for all people living with & at risk of Diabetes in Ireland.
The event was very well attended with up to 1500 visitors coming from all over Ireland. We had a mixture of all age groups and all types of diabetes – Type 1, Type 2, Pre-diabetes, etc.
There was a wonderful MEDAL AWARDS CEREMONY for 17 people diagnosed in the ‘60s, who have lived well with Diabetes for 50 years and over.
Professor Hilary Hoey, Professor Gerald Tomkin and Kieran O’Leary presided over the ceremony. Professor Hoey commented that “it was inspiring to meet so many people who met the challenge of diabetes and achieved so much in life and rather than weakening under the challenges, they had grown in strength”. She added “each story was worthy of becoming part of an inspirational book on the history of diabetes in Ireland”.
We had 20 companies exhibiting in the main hall.
Exhibitors talked to visitors non-stop for 5 hours and at one point an exhibitor stood on a chair to address a 6-deep crowd, all hungry for information on diabetes management. Abbott, Ascensia, Lifescan and Medtronic all had great interest in their medical technologies and Apps which were on display.
0% sugar Miwadi, BR Foods Heart Up+ and ProU yogurt were cleared out of all stock and samples. The Diabetes Ireland Podiatry stand had great interest in their range of shoes on display. Our 8 podiatrists were most frequently asked about what was involved in a diabetic foot assessment and people were impressed with how in-depth our assessments are e.g. (4 sensations test).
The Diabetic RetinaScreen stand enjoyed meeting a lot of their current clientele and especially enjoyed telling people who had not heard of the service, of the benefits in keeping your eyes checked. This excellent publicly funded health service (part of the National Screening Service) has a screening service in our Care Centres in Dublin and Cork and other venues nationwide.
Eamonn of ERM Insurance Brokers reported “brisk” business enquiries and noted a renewed energy and buzz to this year’s event.
Safefood and Coral Leisure made perfect stand partners promoting healthy living and active lifestyles for those living with Prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. There was great fun when people took to the spin bike for a fitness test (VO2 max) and there was even a few who were brave enough to have their body fat assessed!
The Mater Private had great interest in their off-the-shelf packages for pre-pregnancy care, insulin pump therapy and their young adult service, ideal for those coming to college in Dublin, leaving home for the first time.
Funky Pumpers attended from the UK and were blown-away by the strong attendance and the friendliness of the diabetes community in Ireland. This was the biggest event they have seen and attended. Debbie reported that sales were good, steady and they were busy all day. Diabetes Ireland is delighted to announce that very soon we will be stocking a range of Funky Pumpers products in our online shop for our Type 1 community.
The Health Check area was inundated with people, most arriving early to queue for the checks.
Some checks such as HbA1c and cholesterol take from 6 to 11 minutes to get a result thereby producing inevitable delays at this type of event. We will seek extra medical staff for this type of event in the future based on this years turnout.
Diabetes Ireland invests time in educating people during the Health Checks rather than just aiming for high through-put of people. The dietitians from INDI were assessing height, weight and waist circumference and providing dietary advice for visitors and their families. They dealt with 84 people (41 female 43 male) in total. Results showed only 20% of women and only 10% of men were within the healthy weight range. 30% of men and just 23% of women had a healthy waist line.
There were 70 people who presented for blood pressure measurement with 33% of these asked to attend their GP for review and another 6% asked to attend their GP for a re-check in the near future at their own convenience.
60 people were screened for glucose levels by Novo Nordisk with 22% referred to their GP as their readings were above 7mmol/l non-fasting or 6mmol/l fasting. Of these referred clients, 48% were at high-risk of having Type 2 and 28% had a moderate risk.
Sanofi Aventis conducted the HbA1c screen on 33 people and the results showed 48% were within the target level (<53mmol/mol), 9% slightly elevated and 30% were encouraged to discuss the result with their medical team.
73 people were screened by Roche Diagnostics for cholesterol levels with 33% referred to their GP.
De Care Dental provided a dental health screen to almost 100 people and David Casey commented that the event was “brilliant in achieving their goal of raising awareness on the link between diabetes & gum disease and helping to empower people”.
These screening events can become a springboard for people to acknowledge that it is time for them to take care of their health and make the necessary changes to their diet and lifestyle to reduce the complications of diabetes in the future. Since our event, we have taken many calls from our Type 2 community, signing into our CODE courses and becoming members of the charity.
The workshops in a separate area of the event were well attended. Dr Tim O’Brien clearly explained the use of stem cells in treating the complications of diabetes and current research is at the small-scale human, phase 2 stage, leaving the captivated audience motivated and uplifted. Dr. Firth’s talk on alternative therapies provided a broad overview and the session closed with a discussion of how the commonly available cinnamon “cassia” that we buy in our local shop is not the same as the cinnamon “Ceylon” that was used in the scientific trial that showed health benefits, emphasising the need to know exactly what is in herbal products and supplements.
Pauline Dunne’s Sugar Smart talk was very practical and she emphasised that even whilst eating healthy foods, it is critical to maintain a keen eye on portion sizes. She stressed that all of our healthy eating guidelines are evidence-based and we avoid “Fad Diets” and food trends. Emma Guttridge gave an excellent talk on footcare highlighting the need for good footwear, carrying out a daily examination on your own feet and definitely avoiding cutting your own toes if you have diabetes!
Finally we had positive and some negative feedback from visitors. We heavily marketed the event as it was our World Diabetes Day event and numbers exceeded our expectation as well as the venue being a new venue to us. Queues were long for tests. We will address these issues for next time.
We want to thank all volunteers for their help on the day in making this event a success.
Other visitors were delighted –
Davina Lyon, Kildare (via facebook)– “Well done to all the team from Diabetes Ireland for the diabetes health exhibition today. Great seeing you all, thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the 50 year awards ceremony. Think you can chalk that up to a Huge success. Thank you”
Elizebeth Murphy, Waterford (via facebook) – “Today l attended the Diabetes Ireland Exhibition and Workshops event in Dublin. To be honest, l didn’t know what to expect. Boy am l glad l went, they had a presentation to 14 people who have lived with this illness 50 + years. Highlight of my day. You know what listening to them speak about being diagnosed in 1966 12 years before me, it hit home that not a lot changed in the years to when l was diagnosed in 1978. However, now so much has changed and all for the better. I can live the rest of my days knowing, l will never have to go back to the old days, and with the hope that a cure can be found for Type 1 Diabetes. Well Done Diabetes Ireland…”