Diabetes is difficult for anyone, but you might notice that managing diabetes becomes increasingly difficult for elderly individuals. After all, while some elderly people have exceptional control over their condition, age can easily make various aspects of diabetes management more difficult.
The presence of various other conditions that are common in elderly patients, such as neuropathy (nerve damage), dementia, arthritis, or retinopathy (retinal damage), can mean that residents need extra assistance in everything from checking their blood glucose levels, to recognising the signs of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia.
So, how can care home staff ensure that they offer the best care for residents with diabetes?
Every member of staff in your care home who is expected to care for residents with diabetes should have a full understanding of the condition, so it’s vital to provide thorough training.
Vulnerable or elderly people may be less capable of recognising the symptoms of high or low blood sugar, and as such, it's important for your care home staff to be able to recognise the symptoms on their behalf, as well as knowing the best course of action.
Online classes and courses can be taken that offer an insight into diabetes care, and your staff can even take tests that prove their knowledge in this area. Keep in mind, however, that treatments are constantly changing, and we're learning more each day - as such, your staff members may need to update their education from time to time.
The presence of individuals with diabetes in a care home will mean that regular blood testing is necessary. As such, it's important to make sure that you have the correct sharps safety and sharps disposal equipment in your care home, and that staff members are aware of best practice for using needles, to reduce the chance of injury or other serious problems. For more guidance, take a look at our guide to EU and UK Sharps Regulations.
At the same time, spare insulin and other medications should be kept out of the reach of vulnerable residents and at the correct temperature. The instructions for storing these medications should be included on the medicine itself.
Finally, one of the most important things that any member of care home staff can do for a resident with diabetes is to communicate with them and understand their individual needs. For example, you could ask residents what support they need to manage their condition better, and encourage them to ask for help when they're concerned about their glucose levels.
As time goes on, you may begin to notice distinctive symptoms which affect each individual resident. For instance, high or low blood sugar levels can lead to mood swings, which are expressed as irritability, anxiety, or anger, and high blood sugar levels can also cause fatigue. By learning to recognise these signs, staff will be able to take action more swiftly to provide insulin and bring blood sugar levels back down to normal.
We hope you have found our tips on caring for people with diabetes useful. At Care Shop, you can find a wide range of equipment to help with managing diabetes, including blood glucose tests, insulin syringes and insulin safety syringes, so you can stock up on everything you need to support each resident’s needs.