Home Health & Hospice

Encourage Staff and Patients to Stay Dedicated to Diabetes Management

Homecare Insider, November 4, 2013

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to remind your staff of the importance of effective diabetes care management for patients.

Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose levels are too high. Glucose comes from food, and insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into cells to supply energy. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin. In type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood, and can lead to serious complications.

Although homecare staff are unlikely to be working with patients directly due to diabetes, this condition can lead to major complications if not monitored carefully. For example, diabetes patients are at higher risk for:

  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Stomach disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Eye disease, loss of vision, or blindness
  • Nerve damage, with pain or loss of feeling in hands, feet, legs, or other parts of the body

One of the most important factors in diabetes management is maintaining a healthy diet. There is not one diet designed for every diabetic person, but there are guidelines to help with food choices. These guidelines are similar to the kind of eating that is healthy for anyone.

Patients with diabetes should make an effort to eat:

  • Few sugary foods
  • Less fat, especially saturated fat and cholesterol (e.g., butter, margarine, oils, etc.)
  • A variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and fish
  • Just enough calories to stay at a healthy weight

Homecare staff should be aware that dieticians sometimes teach diabetics and those who care for them to use exchange lists. These lists are a way to plan meals by putting foods in a category (e.g., a starch exchange or fruit exchange). The diabetic person eats only a certain number of each type of exchange every day, as ordered by a doctor or established by the dietician.

Ensure that staff and residents are well educated about the risk factors associated with diabetes, as well as key management strategies, such as diet.