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Diabetes self-management education

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Diabetes self-management education helps people to stay healthy and prevent costly complications, yet very few people with diabetes attend a course. Diabetes UK's Taking Control campaign aims to increase the provision and uptake of diabetes self-management education, so that everyone with diabetes has the skills and confidence to take control of their condition.

This page gives healthcare professionals and local decision makers more information about patient education options. It includes resources to use with your patients and advice on improving uptake.

What is diabetes self-management education?

People learn about their condition in different ways. A useful framework for understanding diabetes education, broadly based on a model used in Scotland, is in three levels:

  • Level three: Structured education that meets nationally-agreed criteria (defined byNICE/SIGN), including an evidence-based curriculum, quality assurance of teaching standards and regular audit.
  • Level two: Ongoing learning that may be quite informal, perhaps through a peer group.
  • Level one: Information and one-to-one advice.

Level three education: what is the evidence base?

Diabetes education courses, often known as structured education, improve key outcomes, reduce the onset of complications and are cost effective or even cost saving. 

For a summary of the published evidence on structured education download Diabetes UK's reportDiabetes Education: the big missed opportunity in diabetes care (PDF, 285KB).

Level three education: how to improve uptake and quality

  • Diabetes self-management education: A healthcare professional resource

    A short guide from Diabetes UK, including what your patients need to know about diabetes education and tips to improve attendance (see also key downloads).A short guide from Diabetes UK, including what your patients need to know about diabetes education and tips to improve attendance (see also key downloads).
  • Achieving a step change in diabetes self-management education: a quick guide (PDF, 59KB)

    Diabetes UK’s quick guide sets out eight simple steps commissioners can take to achieve a step change in diabetes education.Diabetes UK’s quick guide sets out eight simple steps commissioners can take to achieve a step change in diabetes education.
  • Healthcare professional template letter to CCG/Trust/Health Board (Word, 62 KB)

    Send this template letter to your local CCG, Trust or Health Board to find out what diabetes education courses are available locally.Send this template letter to your local CCG, Trust or Health Board to find out what diabetes education courses are available locally.
  • Free Taking Control posters and flyers

    Order free posters and flyers to promote education to people with diabetes, as part of Diabetes UK's Taking Control campaign.Order free posters and flyers to promote education to people with diabetes, as part of Diabetes UK's Taking Control campaign.
  • Quality diabetes education for all: A short guide for commissioners (PDF, 247KB)

    Diabetes UK's short guide brings together the key information for commissioning high quality structured education for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.Diabetes UK's short guide brings together the key information for commissioning high quality structured education for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
  • Developing a diabetes education programme to meet local needs in Tower Hamlets (PDF, 163KB)

    Diabetes UK's bright idea explores how Tower Hamlets CCG has increased uptake of diabetes education, including among ‘hard to reach’ groups, by introducing a menu of education options and using a range of methods to better engage with healthcare professionals and people with diabetes.Diabetes UK's bright idea explores how Tower Hamlets CCG has increased uptake of diabetes education, including among ‘hard to reach’ groups, by introducing a menu of education options and using a range of methods to better engage with healthcare professionals and people with diabetes.
  • A quality assured local education course in East Sussex (PDF, 187KB)

    Diabetes UK's bright idea describes how East Sussex NHS Foundation Trust designed an education programme for people with Type 1 diabetes that achieved national certification.Diabetes UK's bright idea describes how East Sussex NHS Foundation Trust designed an education programme for people with Type 1 diabetes that achieved national certification.
  • Developing a menu of education options for people with Type 2 diabetes in Worcestershire (PDF, 150KB)

    Diabetes UK's bright idea explores how three CCGs worked together to develop a menu of education options for people with Type 2 diabetes, including an innovative online self-management programme.Diabetes UK's bright idea explores how three CCGs worked together to develop a menu of education options for people with Type 2 diabetes, including an innovative online self-management programme.
  • Structured education for Type 2 diabetes, a toolkit for optimal delivery

    This toolkit from the Health Innovation Network South London outlines proven methods to optimise the delivery of structured education for Type 2 diabetes, with a focus on how commissioners, providers and referrers can each work to improve uptake in their area.This toolkit from the Health Innovation Network South London outlines proven methods to optimise the delivery of structured education for Type 2 diabetes, with a focus on how commissioners, providers and referrers can each work to improve uptake in their area.
  • Taking Control: Supporting people to self-manage their diabetes (PDF, 447KB)

    A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes, brings together current evidence on barriers to the uptake of diabetes education and proposes solutions.A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes, brings together current evidence on barriers to the uptake of diabetes education and proposes solutions.

What programmes are available?

Below are some of the main UK providers of diabetes education that meetNICE requirements– please note that this list is not exhaustive, nor does Diabetes UK endorse a particular programme:

  • DAFNE: for people with Type 1 diabetes, both newly diagnosed and established
  • X-PERT Diabetes Programme: for people with Type 2 diabetes, both newly diagnosed and established.
  • DESMOND: for people with Type 2 diabetes, both newly diagnosed and established
  • DESMOND BME: culturally specific programme for people with Type 2 diabetes from South Asian communities, both newly diagnosed and established

Other providers can demonstrate they meet NICE criteria by seeking accreditation fromQISMET(Quality Institute for Self Management Education and Training).

Level two education: informal and ongoing learning

In 2015 Diabetes UK commissioned the King's Fund to review the evidence on informal and flexible approaches to self-management education. The report concludes that people with diabetes are best served by having a menu of education options to choose from and recommends further research into level two initiatives.Download the report (PDF, 644KB)

Diabetes UK education options

Diabetes UK offers a range of different types of level two education for people with diabetes:

  • Type 2 Diabetes and Meis an interactive online course to help people with Type 2 diabetes understand and manage their condition successfully. It was developed by Diabetes UK, in partnership with Bupa.
  • Diabetes UK Care Eventsrun across the UK and are aimed at children, young adults and families living with diabetes. They provide people living with diabetes opportunities to share and learn from each other in a relaxed and safe environment.
  • Diabetes UK coordinates a range of peer support optionsfor people with diabetes, including online communities and over the phone.
  • Your patients can also join aDiabetes UK local support group, which offer people living with diabetes a chance to meet and share experiences with others.
  • Direct your patients to Diabetes UK’s webpage onself-management educationfor people with diabetes, which explains why self-management education is important and explores some of the options available.

Level one education: resources to use with your patients

Diabetes UK’s information prescriptionsgive people with diabetes the information they need to understand and improve on their health targets. They are designed for use by primary care professionals to support care planning.Find out more about getting information prescriptions embedded in your IT system.

Direct your patients to Diabetes UK’sguide to diabetesfor more information about living with their condition. You can also order free resources for your patients from ouronline shop.

15 Healthcare Essentials: Diabetes UK has developed free resources to help you make sure that your patients get the essential checks and services they need every year.

Foot care: Diabetes UK has developed free resources to help you make sure that your patients know how to look after their feet, spot danger signs and get the foot care they need.

“Before the course I was being scraped up literally by paramedics due to hypos at least once a week. One week three times in a week. Since the course I have not needed outside assistance once. Four years now since the course”

Allan Rutland, living with Type 1 diabetes for over 30 years

Get in touch

Are you working locally to improve self-management education for people with diabetes? We would love to hear from you. Contact us atsharedpractice@diabetes.org.uk

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