One care home resident with diabetes is admitted to hospital every 25 minutes due to failings in screening and training, according to a new report launched today by Diabetes UK.
The report, 'Diabetes in care homes – Awareness, screening, training', found six out of ten care homes in England which have residents with diabetes, fail to provide any training to their staff about the condition. The report also revealed that less than a quarter (23 per cent) of care homes screen residents for diabetes on admission, and fewer than a third (28 per cent) screen for the condition on an annual basis. This missed screening means as many as 13,500 care home residents in the UK could have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes and be at increased risk of complications associated with condition such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.
Training and screening failures 'truly alarming'
"These report findings are an indictment of the standards of diabetes care provided by a worrying number of our country’s care homes. We estimate as many as a quarter of care home residents in England, around 56,000, have diabetes. To discover, therefore, that many homes fail to provide any training to their staff or screen for this common yet serious condition is truly alarming," said Diabetes UK Chief Executive, Barbara Young.
"With an ageing population and recent data showing no halt to the ever increasing numbers of those being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, older people particularly could face a bleak future of failing care. Even the most basic training and awareness can have a huge impact on improving the quality of life for thousands of society’s most vulnerable people by preventing the complications of diabetes as well as reducing costs to the NHS," she added.
Basic training for care home staff should include how to identify symptoms, recognise and treat hypoglycaemia (‘hypos’), measure and monitor blood glucose levels, administer insulin safely, and understand the importance of dietary timings and requirements as well as regular physical activity.
More than half of care homes (54 per cent) felt the local authority could do more to provide encouragement, information and guidance to offer effective diabetes care, and nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of local authorities had not made an assessment of the needs of older people with diabetes in their area.
One care home manager stated that: “Never in four years of being a home manager has anyone from the local authority come in to/or contacted the home about diabetes”, another that “[our] PCT refuses to provide training to nursing homes”, and one home manager even stated diabetes care “is an NHS responsibility, rather than a social care one”.
Call for care homes to follow guidance
Diabetes UK is calling for care homes to implement the recommendations in its guidance document 'Good Clinical Practice Guidelines for Care Home Residents with Diabetes'. This includes screening new residents for diabetes on admission and all residents at two yearly intervals; for all people with diabetes in care homes to have an individualised care plan tailored to their needs; and for all care home managers to put in place appropriate diabetes-specific training for all staff.
The charity also wants the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to make diabetes training part of any care home’s registration requirements, and for every local commissioner of services to make an assessment of their local population’s needs with regards to effective diabetes management in care homes.