Recognising pharmacists providing diabetes support

Media Release

Patients with diabetes make up to 180 diabetes-related health decisions every day – amassing to over 65,000 individual decisions a year. This National Diabetes Week 2020 is focused on mental and emotional health issues faced by people with diabetes.

The Heads Up on Diabetes campaign is aimed at raising awareness of this burden and recognising the vital support being provided to patients with diabetes by Australian Pharmacists and Pharmacist Diabetes Educators.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is taking stock to recognise the important relationship between a patient who has diabetes and their pharmacist and health care team.

Credentialed diabetes educator and pharmacist, Kirrily Chambers said pharmacists are 7-14 times more likely than any other health care professional to see people with health conditions therefore are in the best position to talk to people with diabetes about their concerns and help them navigate their diabetes.

“Understanding diabetes is a complex and complicated health condition, and most people learn in their own time,” she said.

“Pharmacists can help in this journey since they will normally see the person frequently and knowing when to refer is also a critical part of the health care team.

“Pharmacists help patients understand why they are taking their medication and that type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition which means over time they will need an increase in dose of tablets and maybe long term insulin.”

Ms Chambers also addressed how pharmacists help diabetes patients with their mental and emotional health.

“Like any health professional it is very important that we are careful with our language with individuals with diabetes so as not to make a person feel guilty for having it,” she said.

“Correct language, I believe, is one way we can help reduce the mental burden of chronic health conditions including diabetes and if pharmacists make correct language a focus, we remove the guilt and open channels of communication which allows people to feel comfortable to ask questions and learn more when they need to.”

As part of National Diabetes Week the Federal Government announced a $47 million investment in research to help fast track new treatments for diabetes and heart disease, also recently extending funding for the National Diabetes Service Scheme for a further 12 months.

PSA National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman welcomed the announcement and praised the role of pharmacists in treating and caring for patients with diabetes.

 “Pharmacists play a very important role as part of the diabetes care team from screening for the disease through to treatment and medication management,” he said.

“As medicines experts pharmacists assist patients in understanding their diabetes medicines, improve self-monitoring, and blood glucose control ultimately reducing the risk of a patient developing complications associated with diabetes.

“The delivery of MedsChecks services encourages pharmacists to work collaboratively with the patient, prescriber and other relevant members of the healthcare team to enhance patient care as well as support the physical and mental wellbeing of patients.

“It is important that diabetes week helps shine a light on the physical and mental health challenges faced by those suffering from all types of diabetes which can lead to meaningful discussion about the impacts diabetes can have on a patient’s physical and mental wellbeing.”

“I strongly encourage all patients living with diabetes to makes sure they are connected with their pharmacist as part of their broader healthcare team.”

Text by: The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia