Serving People with Diabetes Since 1967
Diabetes Ireland is the national charity dedicated to helping people with diabetes. We achieve this by providing Support, Education and Motivation to our community. Diabetes Ireland also raises public awareness of diabetes and its symptoms and supports, and funds research related to the causes, prevention and cure of diabetes.
In 1957 efforts were made to get a diabetes charity off the ground. However, it wasn’t until 1967 that the momentum was established for the charity to become a reality. Over 750 people attended the first public meeting of the Irish Diabetic Association (now Diabetes Ireland) in Dublin.
One of its first goals and major successes was to obtain free medication for all people with diabetes in 1971. Today, that success still holds in that every person in Ireland diagnosed with diabetes can obtain free diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol medications under the Long-Term Illness scheme. Diabetes is one of only 16 conditions listed under the scheme saving every person with diabetes thousands of euros each year.
Since then each year our organisation has gone from strength to strength as we identify and achieve annual goals. We have grown to become a strong and unified voice in advocating for better services for those with diabetes and influencing health policy in this area. The purchase of a state-of-the-art headquarters in Santry in 2013 considerably broadened our scope, enabling us to offer services directly to thousands of people with diabetes each year. The opening of a second Care Centre in Cork further strengthened our position in the community.
With our comprehensive support services, education programmes, health promotion initiatives, advocacy programmes, members magazine and other activities, we constantly strive to provide what our members need to optimally manage their diabetes. Today, our Aims are to:
- provide support, education, and motivation to people with diabetes, their families, and friends.
- raise awareness of diabetes in the community and foster programmes for early detection and prevention of diabetes.
- support and encourage advances in diabetes care and research.
Living with diabetes is not easy! However, with the right help, advice and support, there is no reason why people with diabetes cannot live life to the full. This is our goal. Each year through our patient education and information services we provide that care and support to thousands of Irish people with diabetes and their families when needed most.
- Provide support and information to people with diabetes and their families via our Diabetes Helpline (01 8428118) Mon-Fri 9am-5pm.
- Provide information via our website (www.diabetes.ie), social media, literature and our magazine “Diabetes Ireland” which is delivered directly to members.
- Deliver regular “Diabetes Education” webinars and online programmes with practical information around the challenges of living with diabetes.
- Deliver our Type 2 diabetes structured education programme (CODE) to people living with Type 2 diabetes.
- Provide preventative podiatry (footcare) services in our Care Centres in Dublin and Cork. The HSE’s Diabetic Retinopathy Screening programme is also based in both centres.
- Provide a virtual Counselling service (one to one) to people living with diabetes and their families.
- Advocate and influence public policy for improvements in public diabetes services nationwide and quicker access to new medications and technology that will help people with diabetes to improve daily management of their condition.
- Provide advice on all aspects of insurance cover including mortgage protection, travel and access to our private motor insurance scheme and anti-discrimination advice.
- Deliver a wide range of health promotion initiatives to increase awareness of diabetes including school’s awareness, workplace awareness, early detection and prevention initiatives.
- Provide diabetes awareness and prevention education for public and private service providers caring for people with diabetes in Residential and Day Care settings.
- Provide support for children with diabetes and their families through our Sweetpea Kidz Club for children aged 2-10 years, teenage activities, family weekends and parent workshops.
- Provide professional support to healthcare professionals via annual multi-disciplinary conferences, practice support packs and our Diabetes & Cardiology Professional magazine.
- Promote, support and fund research related to the causes, prevention, and cure of diabetes via our subsidiary charity Diabetes Ireland Research Alliance.
What did we achieve in 2020
2020 was an extremely difficult year for Diabetes Ireland as it was hugely affected in its ability to provide its full range of services to the diabetes community by the Covid 19 pandemic.
During the first lockdown in March 2020, the directors took appropriate measures in keeping with Covid 19 Government requirements and closed its offices and care centres and severely reduced the working hours of all staff. Unfortunately, this coincided with a significant reduction in income that necessitated applying for the governments wage subsidy scheme for staff.
Diabetes Ireland staff in recognising the need and importance of helping and supporting people with diabetes and their families worked tirelessly to keep our lines of communication (helpline and online platforms) open despite the Covid 19 lockdown.
Following a call for support in June 2020, fantastic fundraising support from our members, the wider diabetes community, our corporate partners, and government charity supports, we re-opened our Care Centres on a partial basis and fully reopened them in September 2020 as all staff returned to normal working hours.
Advocacy was a main priority of Diabetes Ireland in 2020. Our aim is to see improved public services, better and quicker access to good quality of care, diabetes technology and medications and better recognition of diabetes and the diabetes community by the Government and its public officials. Work is continuously ongoing to achieve improvements which will benefit the diabetes community.
Our Diabetes Ireland Advocacy Group took the opportunity of the General Election in February 2020 to highlight the lack of resources in current HSE diabetes services by
General Election Doorstep Campaign
launching a doorstep campaign encouraging everyone living with diabetes to engage with election candidates seeking their support to address the health needs of the diabetes community. In late 2020, the Cross-Party Parliamentary Group on diabetes was restarted with Cormac Devlin TD as Chairperson with a view to highlighting the need for improved diabetes services nationwide to the Minister for Health and his Department, the HSE Officials and other stakeholders. Diabetes Ireland will continue to support this group in 2021.
A Single Preferred Glucose Strip for Testing….No Thank You!!
In the strongest terms possible, Diabetes Ireland said “No” to the HSE’s view that a single preferred glucose test strip for home blood glucose testing was suitable for all people with diabetes. Diabetes Ireland highlighted that this would have a detrimental effect on the maintenance of good diabetes management and that for effective long-term management both clinician and a person with diabetes should be able to access the most suitable blood glucose meter on the market for them in a joint decision-making process.
Diabetes Ireland also highlighted that this would allow sufficient choice, flexibility, visibility, dexterity, and other enhanced features to be considered in the decision-making process between the clinician and the individual. The HSE published its guidelines in February 2020 and Diabetes Ireland was delighted to see that its view was accepted and today there continues to be choice of blood glucose strip for everyone.
Although, the HSE proposed a preferred list of blood glucose strips, it has still allowed access for people to continue using their current blood glucose strip and only change if they wish to, in consultation with their clinician. However, for those newly diagnosed who require a blood glucose meter, clinicians are being asked to work with individuals to select from the preferred list but retain the ability to prescribe from outside of the preferred list based on clinical need. For more information on our advocacy work in 2021, see https://www.diabetes.ie/advocacy-development/
Another priority was to ensure we continued to offer excellent support and services to people with diabetes and their families. In 2020, our efforts to do this was heavily impacted by Covid19. Cognisant of Covid19 Government guidelines , we aimed to deliver services to people with diabetes and their families by increasing the awareness of diabetes and encouraging them to make positive lifestyle changes.
Over 237,000 people reached out to Diabetes Ireland seeking information and support via www.diabetes.ie and our Helpline. Most concern was the impact of Covid 19 on individual diabetes management. We developed a Covid 19 & Diabetes Management section on www.diabetes.ie and staff manned the helpline right through the lockdowns to ensure help was available. The helpline saw a 78% increase in calls in 2020 and a further 22,000 people received ongoing updates via our social media channels.
Type 2 Structured Education Programme Went Virtual
Following a successful Type 2 Diabetes Tele-education pilot in July and August 2020 which highlighted the importance of peer-to-peer learning in any education programme, Diabetes Ireland developed a virtual CODE programme in late 2020. Feedback was extremely positive with participants enjoying the easy access from home. Diabetes Ireland plan to deliver 28 virtual CODE programmes in 2021. To register for CODE, click here.
Virtual Education Webinars Launched
To ensure we could continue to provide people with practical information around the challenges during these difficult times, we launched a series of 5 education webinars all of which were extremely well attended with very positive feedback from attendees. Some of these webinars were specifically for people with Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes while others we aimed at everyone living with diabetes and their families.
Teachers Training Programme
Over 400 teachers attended a virtual training programme on managing Type 1 diabetes during school hours in 2020.
Providing Free PPE for our Community Healthcare Diabetes Specialists
In partnership with Novo Nordisk, Diabetes Ireland helped to ensure that community-based diabetes healthcare professionals could continue to safely provide much needed appointments to people with diabetes ensuring that risk exposure was very much reduced for everyone by providing free PPE each month.
Matt Cooper Speaks Out
Matt Cooper celebrated World Diabetes Day with us and urged people living with Type 2 diabetes in Covid times to closely monitor their health and to contact a healthcare professional with any health concerns they may have.
Care Centres Reopen in June 2020
Following a call for fundraising support in June 2020, fantastic support from our members and the wider diabetes community, we were able to reopen our Care Centres on a partial basis in June 2020 and fully reopen them in September 2020. Our podiatry services continue to flourish with over 5,000 clients of which 78% live daily with diabetes attending. In both Care Centres, there is also access to the National Diabetes Retinopathy Screening programme for people with diabetes living in the Northside of Dublin and in Cork City.
Some of our 2020 service highlights in numbers were:
- 5,650 people contacted our Diabetes Helpline in 2020, an increase of 78% on the previous year.
- 74% of helpline callers sought general information on diabetes.
- 5% sought specific information on diet.
- 7% on personal advocacy issues such as insurance, school, work and HSE services.
- 13% sought information on upcoming events and other issues.
- 5,170 people attend our podiatry (footcare) services, 78% of whom live with diabetes.
- Our Diabetes Ireland/HSE High Risk Footcare Service provided 13,943 appointments in 2020.
- Each day around 100 people with diabetes attend their Diabetic RetinaScreen appointment in our Care Centres.
Website & Social Media
- 232,000 visitors accessed www.diabetes.ie.
- 30,000 accessed our Covid & Diabetes Management Section.
- 5,088 visitors completed our Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment online with over 2,970 (58%) classified as either high or moderate risk.
- 11,346 visitors accessed our “Sugar Smart” microsite which offer simple tips in reducing over consumption of free sugars in a variety of daily lifestyle.
- 22,000 followers on our range of social media platforms.
Health Promotion & Events
- 118 people with Type 2 diabetes attended 6 CODE education programmes. A new virtual programme was also developed in 2020 for full rollout in 2021.
- 4,980 visitors to diabetes.ie completed “Diabetes Smart”, our online interactive educational programme. The Diabetes Smart programme is based on the principals of CODE for use by GPs and people at risk and/or diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
- 28 health promotion/screening events were held.
- 5 Education Webinars for people living with diabetes and their families all of which were very well attended were held in late 2020.
- 200 teachers attended our 1-day virtual education conference on managing Type 1 diabetes in school.
- An initiative to provide PPE to community-based Diabetes Nurse Specialists was launched.
While our goal is to ensure our services continue and expand, with the coronavirus pandemic, our fundraising has been decimated and currently we don’t know the impact this will have on our services as we look to recover from its impact. However, the board of directors, staff and volunteers will strive to ensure our recovery is swift, but we can only do that with the ongoing support of people with diabetes, their families and our corporate partners.
We need your Support
There are many ways to support Diabetes Ireland and this year more than any other we need the 225,000 strong community to support the charity and help it get back on its feet.
Our goal is to support, educate and motivate the diabetes community. The charity needs your personal support to do that. Saying that, we cannot express enough our appreciation of the ongoing support we receive from our current volunteers, fundraisers, healthcare professionals, members, employees, corporate supporters and the HSE for helping us help our community. We must all continue to work together for the Diabetes Community in Ireland so we can all live a long and healthy life. So take the first step, become a member so we can mutually support each other and our community.
During 2019/20, Diabetes Ireland Research Alliance in conjunction with the Health Research Board, continued to fund a project called “Towards novel anti-infectives with enhanced wound-healing for diabetic foot; CO- releasing star-shaped microbicidal polymers”. This research led by Dr Deirdre Fitzgerald-Hughes, Royal College of Surgeon’s in Ireland was officially launched in November 2018. Dr Fitzgerald-Hayes and team aim to develop and evaluate, in a laboratory setting, a new class of medication delivered directly to a foot wound. This new compound has the potential to effectively deliver enhanced properties to treat and heal infected wounds with diabetes. Total funding to deliver this project over the next 2 years to late 2020 is €170,000. See www.diabetes.ie/research/dira-annual-report/ for more information.
Diabetes Ireland has a responsibility to provide and follow a code of good practice when it comes to how our organisation is run. We are fully compliant to the Code of Practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Ireland. The Governance Code is based on five main principles and Diabetes Ireland is committed to adhering to these principles. Our signed statement is available to view here.
For more information on the Governance Code, please see: https://www.charitiesregulator.ie/en/information-for-charities/charities-governance-code
Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising
Diabetes Ireland is committed to complying with the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising. The Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising is a guide to best practice developed by a steering group set up in response to the Charities Act 2009. To read more about our commitment to achieving the standards contained within the Statement for Guiding Principles for Fundraising here. (https://www.charitiesinstituteireland.ie/guidelines)
As well as maintaining current services, we are committed to growing our services long into the future. Looking to 2022-2026, we are working with staff, committee members and active volunteers to develop a 5-year strategy for Diabetes Ireland which will take us forward in the new world of today. However, this is only possible if we continuously generate the income required to deliver our services and support. Our new 5-year strategy will be launched in November 2021.