Today, Diabetes Ireland launched its Annual Report for 2019 which highlights the many services it provides to people with diabetes and their families.
While 2019 was a fantastic year for the charity, 2020 has been extremely tough to date and like many other organisations we have had to take measures during lockdown which included closing our offices and care centres and severely reducing the working hours of our administration staff who to their credit continued to keep our very busy helpline and online platforms open so we could continue to support our diabetes community.
In June, we reopened our Care Centres who are now working at 80% capacity and will hopefully increase to full capacity in August. The centres are working through their client waiting lists and cancelled appointments lists before opening services to new patients.
CEO, Kieran O’Leary said “the impact of coronavirus has meant that all of our face to face education services and social events had to be postponed and we are now working to see how we can deliver these services in the virtual space. In July, we launched an online/telephone review education programme for people with Type 2 Diabetes using Diabetes Smart and one to one telephone calls with members of our health promotion team. With schools hoping to reopen in September we are now looking at how we can virtually educate and support teachers and Special Needs Assistants in the management of school going children with Type 1 diabetes”.
In the continuing absence of diabetes review appointments, online education supports for people with Type 2 diabetes become very important. “While our Diabetes Smart programme is a very positive offering, the technology behind it is now outdated and we need overhaul it to make it more user friendly and more easily accessible for users. However, that costs money and we are currently trying to source funding to develop a new updated version of Diabetes Smart. In August, we are working towards running a series of virtual patient webinars to provide people with practical information around the challenges of living with diabetes at this time. Again, this is a new direction for us but a necessary one in the current climate” added Kieran.
Advocacy was one of the main priorities of Diabetes Ireland in 2019 and the formal setting up of the Diabetes Ireland Advocacy Group was a very positive step and highlights the intent of the charity to continue advocating for more diabetes service resources. The committee consists of people with Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, parents of children with diabetes and staff members. The aim is to see improved public services, better and quicker access to new diabetes technology and medications and better recognition of diabetes by the Government and its public officials.
Pre-Covid, diabetes care was patchy at best with services under resourced at both hospital and primary care level with unequal access for patients and long waiting lists for appointments. Covid 19 has exacerbated the problem further with thousands of appointments cancelled during lockdown. Covid 19 has caused a plethora of issues currently impacting the diabetes community and we need to see the HSE take appropriate steps to restart diabetes services and support every one of the 225,000 people with diabetes in Ireland.
- an urgent need for a roadmap to reopen routine medical care similar to the Return to Work Safety Protocol by developing a system to triage patients so that routine care is delivered to those with most immediate need.
- expanding the Type 2 Diabetes Cycle of Care Initiative to everyone diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes so that every person with the Type 2 diabetes will be reviewed regularly.
- developing a virtual clinical consultation service for people with Type 1 diabetes to enable maximum benefit for both the clinician and the patient. To aid this we need to provide access to Flash Glucose Monitoring (Freestyle Libre) to all people with Type 1 diabetes.
- Restoration of podiatry diabetes services with immediate effect and look at expanding community-based podiatry services to allow easier and more regular access to services for patients.
A huge and welcome development for people with diabetes in the North West was the granting of permission to start the building of a new diabetes centre in Sligo University Hospital. Our local Sligo branch committee along with diabetes staff in the hospital have worked together for almost 18 years advocating for this development and to see the building actually begin to take shape is wonderful for them and the local diabetes community. Of course, advocating for diabetes services will continue to be a priority focus for Diabetes Ireland this year.
Chairperson Professor Hilary Hoey said “in the 13 weeks to 30 June 2020, Diabetes saw a drop of 35% in its income. While this is significant, it was not as bad as we feared due to the fantastic response we got from people with diabetes in Ireland to our call for help over the past few months and from many of our corporate partners who provided extra funding support to us. However, we are not out of the woods yet and this year more than any other we need the 225,000 strong community to support us through these unusual times and help Diabetes Ireland remain on its feet. We will continue to support, educate, motivate and empower people with diabetes and their families to advocate for optimum health care for all those with diabetes in Ireland. I cannot express enough my appreciation of the ongoing support we receive from our current employees, volunteers, fundraisers, healthcare professionals, members, corporate supporters and the HSE. In comparison to 2019, we are now having to work very differently to support our community, but we must all continue to work together to keep us all safe and healthy”.