Carers and care homes

People in residential homes need care for many reasons and not all establishments will have had the experience of looking after someone with Type 1 diabetes. All healthcare professionals who specialise in managing Type 1 diabetes will be more than happy to discuss diabetes management with care homes and offer education and written care plans. It is important that all residential and care homes recognise the special needs that someone with Type 1 diabetes has and that individual care plans are developed.

Find out more about some areas for consideration if you have, or someone you know has diabetes and you’re looking for a carer or care home:

Policies

There is a recommendation from the Care and Quality Commission (CQC) that all residential and care homes have a written policy for the care of people with diabetes. If you or a relative/friend are starting to look at options for residential care then you are within your rights to ask about this document when choosing a suitable place to provide care for yourself or a loved one.

Diabetes passport

A good way to ensure carers know about your or your loved one’s diabetes is to create a diabetes passport. This is an individual care plan tailored to the person with diabetes. It includes documentation of the following potential problems associated with diabetes in older people:

  • other medical problems
  • hearing and vision
  • polypharmacy (when someone is on lots of different medications)
  • cognitive impairment (this is a general term referring to memory and confusion)
  • depression
  • risk of hypoglycaemia
  • nutrition
  • mobility

Hypoglycaemia

One of the main problems that occur in care homes is hypoglycaemia. It may be more difficult to recognise hypoglycaemia if there are problems with poor memory, confusion or communication problems. This is why it is perhaps better to have sugars running a little higher to try to avoid hypoglycaemia. It is worth making sure rapid-acting glucose is available, such as glucose tablets or Lucozade, in case blood sugars do drop.

Foot care

It is extremely important to maintain good foot care. If someone becomes less mobile and perhaps even confined to their bed then checking their feet every day for signs of redness and ulceration is really important. The very sensitive pressure areas on the feet can easily become sore without anyone realising it.

If you know someone with Type 1 diabetes is likely to need residential care, the earlier the diabetes team and GP are informed, the sooner appropriate education and support can be offered.

There is a PDF available to help care homes develop an education programme and put processes in place to provide skills to anyone looking after people with Type 1 diabetes. You can download this here.

Diabetes UK provides basic training in diabetes for healthcare professionals. You can find out more here. They also have some useful information about choosing a care home


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