By Steve Marriott on June 11, 2020
New research from NHS England & Improvement and NHS Digital has found that deaths in people with diabetes in England have more than doubled during the COVID-19 epidemic1. Hyperglycaemia and obesity in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes were independently associated with increased COVID-19 mortality. Risk factor control is cited as potentially diminishing the impact of COVID-19 in diabetes, highlighting the potentially life-saving importance of support and education for patients.
Recognising in mid-March that it would not be able to deliver its structured diabetes education (SDE) programme, EMPOWER, in its traditional face to face model, Spirit Health was able to convert the education to a fully virtual service using video calls within three weeks. Following four trial sessions conducted during the first two weeks in April, EMPOWER has been live again since April 20th, with Spirit running three courses a week for up to 20 newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes patients across the UK.
Claire Pridige, Education Service Manager, Spirit Health, explains:
“It’s so important to be able to support newly diagnosed diabetes patients, many of whom will be anxious about their condition, and arguably even more so than usual during this time.
“Two of our trained diabetes educators have been able to convert rooms in their homes to provide the specialist education online, using video conferencing and chat facilities to help engage patients and encourage dialogue, which is an important part of the programme. So far, the feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive.”
38-year-old Sherry Want attended the online course and subsequently emailed the team:
“I just wanted to say a big thank you to the whole EMPOWER team. I’ve been really worried about my newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes. But today’s course has given me some fantastic knowledge and I feel a little easier now on how to get started. Thank you, it’s a crazy time at the moment, but I wanted you to know you really have made a difference to my life and how I was feeling, lots of positive changes to start. Thanks again. You guys are amazing. Stay safe.”
EMPOWER was designed specifically for people with newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes. It consists of a structured curriculum delivered in a single session lasting 3–4 hours. The lesson plan encourages active and practical involvement of participants, along with the use of problem-solving models, aids identification, and planning of individualised strategies and interventions to help patients self-manage their diabetes. Participants set goals, and clinical and biometric data are captured at 6 and 12-to-14 months by patients’ GPs. EMPOWER has been externally validated against the criteria from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for structured diabetes education and is also certified according to the Quality Institute for Self-Management Education and Training (QISMET) Diabetes Self-Management Education quality standard.
“We assessed the course content and structure in line with government guidelines during the pandemic, and fortunately were able to adopt an online model very quickly, which has meant minimal disruption to patients who had just been referred. However, our concern now is for those individuals who fear they might have Type 2 diabetes but are not going to their GP. Our message is that help is very much available.”