It’s time for team tactics

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The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that in 2017 there were 1.1 million people aged between 20 and 79 years with diabetes in Australia. The prevalence of diabetes in Australia has more than tripled over the past 25 years and there’s no sign that this is slowing.

Currently, it’s estimated that more than two million people are at high risk of developing diabetes.

According to Chairman of Wounds Australia and an executive board member of the International World Infection Institute, Associate Professor Jeff Sussman, OAM, “if we want to be accurate, it’s probably more like three million, because a large number of diabetics wandering around out there have never been diagnosed.”

Diabetes is associated with significant premature mortality and morbidity, impacting not only the individual with diabetes but also their family and the whole of society.

How can you help?

While a pharmacist can help patients understand their medications, including when to take them and identifying and managing any side effects a patient may experience, it’s recommended patients living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes also have a healthcare team to provide support and help them live well with diabetes.

The team approach helps patients learn everything they need to know about diabetes treatment and management, while also offering a level of protection against the various complications that can be associated with diabetes.

When talking to patients about building a healthcare team, it’s important you help them understand they will always be the most important person on their team and all decisions remain theirs to make.

As diabetes can affect so many different aspects of a patient’s health, a healthcare team can include health professionals from a wide range of disciplines, selected according to the specific needs of the patient.

While a diabetic patient is likely to already be under the care of a GP, a diabetic healthcare team will include additional health professionals from a range of the following disciplines:

  • A Credentialed Diabetes Educator (CDE) or Diabetes Nurse Educator (DNE);
  • An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD);
  • An Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP);
  • A Podiatrist;
  • An Audiologist or Audiometrist;
  • An Optometrist;
  • An Endocrinologist;
  • A Psychologist.

Team need coaches

While pharmacy assistants aren’t experts in the above disciplines, they are in a position to coach patients around the basic principles for managing their diabetes, including many of the principles that, over time, can be taken for granted or even forgotten.

If those working with a diabetic patient are aware of what to watch out for, including overall health, the risk factors and specific known issues, patient outcomes are greatly improved.

Talk about teams

If patients don’t have a team surrounding them to help achieve the goal of optimal health and minimised risk from their diabetes, it’s likely their condition will worsen.

By not being in regular touch with an educator or other health professional, patients can slip into bad habits and increase the risk of their diabetes causing additional, but preventable complications.

So, coach your patients about building their healthcare team, focusing on the disciplines most suited to their own unique condition and risks. And, when doing so, it’s important to mention that the various support services typically attract funding from Medicare and/or healthcare funds.

Together, you can be part of a winning team.

For more information and to read the full feature as it appears in the July issue of Retail Pharmacy Assistants e-magazine, visit: rpassistants.com.au/magazines/retail-pharmacy-assistants-july-2021/