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World Diabetes Day

October 26, 2021 |

In 1922, 14-year-old Leonard Thompson from Toronto, Canada, became the first person to receive an insulin injection for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes. Prior to this, his treatment was a starvation diet and he most certainly would have died within days had it not been for his desperate father agreeing to allow doctors to treat his son. Whilst his condition did not improve following the first injections, a second round just 12 days later brought immediate improvements. This new miracle drug saved Leonard’s life and he lived a further 13 years until passing away at the age of 26 from pneumonia.

Leonard’s recovery led to a phenomenal response to the use of insulin as a treatment for diabetes. Even now, 100 years since its discovery, insulin continues to save the lives of millions around the world today. Yet, for millions more, access to effective treatment options to manage diabetes remains an unattainable goal. That’s why the 2021 – 2023 theme for World Diabetes Day is Access to Diabetes Care – If Not Now, When?

What is World Diabetes Day?

World Diabetes Day (WDD) was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Foundation and WHO to acknowledge and address the concerns around the growing threat of diabetes. WDD is marked every year on 14 November, accompanied by the world’s largest diabetes awareness campaign, drawing the attention of over 1 billion people in more than 160 countries. Access to Diabetes Care will be the platform for delivering the vital message to governments around the world that so much more needs to be done to ensure that fundamental diabetes care is accessible to everyone.

Why do we need World Diabetes Day?

The latest figures and projections spell out the evolving crisis – in 2019 it was estimated that 463 million adults were living with diabetes. That’s 1 in 11 people between the ages of 20 and 79 years.  

By 2030 this will increase to 578 million, and by 2045, 700 million adults will be living with diabetes.

The impact this will have on the health and social care industry is huge.

So if your life, or the life of someone you know, has been affected by diabetes, then World Diabetes Day is one way to ensure that diabetes care remains at the forefront of public and political discussions.

Get involved with WDD activities!

World Diabetes Day is truly a global event, uniting people with diabetes, families, friends, health professionals, advocates, the media, and government organisations. 

And you can make a difference by participating in the 2021-2023 WDD campaign, Access to Diabetes Care.  Involve your co-workers, managers and the people in your care –  encourage them to help make the campaign a success too. 

Here are some ways you can find out more:

How to get involved: WDD has provided lots of activities and ideas for spreading the message of diabetes awareness.

Access WDD’s resources: Find a comprehensive selection of support materials, including infographics, resource toolkits and posters that you can use at your care home to inform and encourage awareness.

And SHARE your activities! If you create an event in your care home, don’t forget to share your activity with WDD!  You can also submit your photos for the global WDD image gallery.

Diabetes 101 – Your quick ‘diabetes awareness’ refresher

What is Diabetes? – When a person’s body is unable to maintain healthy levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood, this is known as diabetes and can lead to short and long term health complications. Diabetes is a serious, complex condition, requiring daily care.

There are three main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body destroys the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas and accounts for around 10% of all diabetes. Type 1 requires the individual to take insulin everyday, usually by injection. Type 1 symptoms are often sudden and can be life-threatening; therefore it is usually diagnosed quite quickly.
  • Type 2 Diabetes is more common than Type 1, accounting for around 90% of all diabetes cases. It occurs when the body is unable to effectively respond to insulin and results in blood glucose levels consistently rising. This in turn can cause strain on the pancreas, leading to further complications. With Type 2 Diabetes, many people have no symptoms at all, while other signs can go unnoticed being seen as part of ‘getting older’. Symptoms can be managed with a healthy diet, exercise and when needed, insulin medication.
  • Type 3 Diabetes is more commonly known as gestational diabetes and occurs during pregnancy. Its presence can cause complications for both mother and child.

What proportion of older people have diabetes and what are the symptoms?

1 in 5 of people who are above 65 years old have diabetes.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Being more thirsty than usual
  • Passing more urine
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Always feeling hungry
  • Having cuts that heal slowly
  • Itching, skin infections
  • Blurred vision

What are the complications of diabetes for the older person?

For an older person, the complications of diabetes can be short or long term. Complications can range from unsteadiness, falls and confusion to cardiovascular, kidney, nerve and eye disease.

How can we help you keep Diabetes Awareness in the spotlight?

With the right support, care providers can improve the quality of life for individuals living with diabetes.  But knowledge is key to maintaining the most up to date and best practice skills.

Altura Learning creates quality courses, partnering with leading experts and health professionals who share their knowledge and provide practical demonstrations to ensure the care and support you provide is effective. Our aim is to empower all staff to support individuals with the right skills and a focus on practical strategies.

Our course, Diabetes: Everyday Care, provides an overview of diabetes including the types, signs and symptoms, and discusses your role in assisting an individual to manage diabetes and maintain their health each day.

Diabetes: Managing Complications and Use of Medications, is an advancing course that takes the management of diabetes one step further, with information on how to recognise and respond to the complications of diabetes and the role of medications.


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