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Diabetes Week 2017

Diabetes Week, 11 – 17 June, is an annual event that aims to raise awareness of the condition and to increase our understanding of what can cause it and how to prevent it.

There are two major types of diabetes affecting our population.  Type 1 diabetes largely occurs in children and young adults and is brought about by rapid destruction of the body's insulin producing cells.  It accounts for approximately 10% of diabetes in the UK.  Treatment of Type 1 diabetes is by use of insulin, with a precarious balance between carbohydrate intake and the required insulin dose.  Type 2 diabetes accounts for the bulk of the remainder of diabetes.  It is associated with ethnicity (prevalence is higher in black minority ethnic populations), socio economic deprivation and advancing age.  It is also associated with being overweight or obesity and with a sedentary lifestyle.  Treatment of Type 2 diabetes involves weight loss and lifestyle modification as well as use of medication to control blood glucose and to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most prevalent long term conditions in London, affecting about 4 - 7% of the adult population.  In 2012/13 there were 13,391 people aged over 17 years with diabetes in Lewisham, and it is estimated that there are a further 5,399 adults living with undiagnosed diabetes. Diabetes represents a serious, growing global and national problem. The estimated number of people with diabetes in Lewisham is similar to the national average despite having a high proportion of people from black minority ethnic backgrounds.  This is due largely to Lewisham young population. The borough's demographic and population projections suggest that the prevalence of diabetes in Lewisham is expected to overtake the national average, rising to almost one in ten people, by 2030.

We are bringing together GPs, community services, the hospital and patients to jointly design a new way for Lewisham to tackle this diabetes crisis. Our diabetes transformation programme is a 3-5 year plan that focuses on developing community based diabetes care to help the people of Lewisham better manage their health, and be supported to understand and self-manage their condition. As part of this programme, we are working with Healthwatch Lewisham to deliver a programme to recruit and support Peer Support Facilitators to establish Diabetes Peer Support Groups across the borough. There will be four Diabetes Peer Support Groups, with a minimum of eight members in each group. Once established, each group will work together towards organising and delivering a diabetes event for Diabetes Awareness Week 2018.

Dr Charles Gostling, Clinical Director said "it is important for Lewisham to act now by transforming how diabetes is delivered so we can improve outcomes and the quality of diabetic care. The development of the peer support groups will establish a strong link between local residents living with Type 2 diabetes and the CCG and will directly influence our diabetes transformation programme in Lewisham. Our aim is to ensure that diabetes care is delivered closer to home, providing more patient choice, improved quality of care and patient satisfaction for residents in Lewisham. The key to making the necessary changes is to ensure that people with diabetes and those working in diabetes care lead and drive the changes."      

If you would to know more, are interested in becoming a Peer Support Facilitator, or would like to share your experience of Type 2 diabetes, please contact Stephanie Wood at Healthwatch, or 020 8315 1906.

Folake's story

Folake is a 50 year old African woman from south London and is living with type 2 diabetes. Her mother also has type 2 diabetes. She was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in late 2015, following blood tests as part of her annual check-up. "I was really shocked at the news", says Folake, "my diagnosis was totally unexpected."

Following her diagnosis, Folake re-evaluated her lifestyle, began swimming, and started walking a lot more than she had done before. She also reduced her carb intake, discovered many interesting salads and hasn't eaten a bar of chocolate since! She has lost weight and is working hard to reduce stress levels and to take better care of herself. 

Folake says "I would advise anyone with diabetes to arm themselves with as much information as possible and to make sure they are fully involved in their care. I also found it very helpful to set myself targets and realistic, achievable goals".

"I found the changes to my diet quite challenging. My background is Nigerian and like many West Africans my meals were heavily starch/carb based. Rice is my Achilles heel!  I always thought it would be chocolate or Danish pastries, but I've had no trouble with these".