People in Northern Ireland with Type 2 diabetes could live healthier lives and possibly avoid certain complications if their loved ones were better armed to help them manage their condition.
Around 73,500 people in Northern Ireland have diabetes, and new research from Boots UK reveals that families are ready and willing to help more (88% said so) but they feel they need more information and greater guidance on how best to provide support.
Of the family members questioned, over half (56%) have had a loved one experience a complication due to their Type 2 diabetes but six in 10 (62%) believe they could have helped if they’d been more aware of what the complications might be, what might cause them and, therefore, what they could do together, as a family, to help avoid them.
With 80% of the NHS’s 9.8 billion annual UK diabetes bill being spent on treating complications,3 mobilising the wealth of latent support represented by these willing family members could prove a powerful weapon in better management of Type 2 Diabetes and in improving lives. Eight in 10 (81%) family members say they’d use extra support if it were available which is why Boots UK has launched a new Diabetes Information Service that not only provides support for people living with the condition, but also valuable advice and guidance for their families to help them start having better conversations.
In terms of what support family members would like to receive, the research found:
· Over six in 10 (61%) want more guidance on what to do if their loved one has a health problem as a result of their diabetes
· Over four in 10 (46%) want to better understand the medication their loved one had been prescribed
· Nearly two thirds (59%) want help on how to better encourage their loved one to make diet and lifestyle changes without feeling like they are nagging
· Half (50%) would like more information on how to inspire and motivate their loved one to take better control of their condition
· A third (36%) of family members are unaware of what health checks their loved one should have each year.
Dr Katharine Barnard, Health Psychologist and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southampton, comments: “Given that 68% of people with diabetes are talking to their family about their condition2, with nearly 1 in 10 talking to them more often than healthcare professionals2, we need to ensure that family members are armed with the knowledge and guidance they need, so they can provide the best support possible.
“Conversations at home should be supportive and enquiring about the kind of help the person with diabetes would like. Cooking healthy meals for the whole family or going for a walk together can help increase the exercise level of the whole family. Gentle nudging towards healthier lifestyles for the whole family is far more effective than nagging. Working together to help the person with diabetes feel empowered to make those vital lifestyle changes has the added benefit of helping to improve the health of the family overall.”
Claire Wilson, Regional Pharmacy Manager for Boots in Northern Ireland, comments: “The research highlights that there is a real need for pharmacists, not only to help people with diabetes, but to also help support their supporters. Pharmacies are at the heart of many communities and are well placed to help the family members of people with Type 2 diabetes to feel confident and in control of their and their loved one’s health. It is therefore encouraging to see that a quarter (26%) of family members already speak to their pharmacist about their loved one2 - only 6% fewer than those who turn to their GP2. In addition, a fifth of family members (20%) said they would like to have a private conversation with a pharmacist trained in diabetes2, an opportunity that Boots now offers.”
Of the family members questioned who have had a loved one who has experienced a complication due to their Type 2 diabetes, the health issues included:
- Cardiovascular health conditions (47%)
- · Eye problems such as damage to the retina (30%)
- Sexual health issues such as erectile dysfunction (19%)
To help the person they know with Type 2 diabetes better manage their condition, family members state they would like:
· To access information via an online information site (60%)2 – Boots.com/diabetes contains a number of videos where healthcare experts answer questions about diabetes. In addition, BootsWebMD.com has a specific diabetes health centre which is packed with information and support to help people with diabetes keep up to date with the latest diabetes news.
· A private conversation with a pharmacist trained in diabetes (20%)2 – Boots pharmacists have been trained as part of their Continuing Professional Development on how to have inspiring conversations and offer bespoke support to customers in the management of their diabetes. They are available to offer help and support every step of the way to those living with the condition as well as family members
· A detailed information pack to take home (42%)2 – Boots UK has launched a Diabetes Information Pack which is a comprehensive support pack containing information and advice on living with diabetes. It contains expert help and information, practical advice, and signposting to other sources of information and also contains advice and support for those supporting someone with diabetes.