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Managing Diabetes Awareness in Long-Term Care

September 1, 2005
by root
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An array of important informational resources to assist caregivers in providing optimum care by Michelle D. Dumonceaux
BY MICHELLE D. DUMONCEAUX Managing diabetes awareness in long-term care
Targeting the right resources is key to saving time while improving care
During the past three years, the medical establishment has been flooded with information about diabetes. Healthcare professionals have been swamped with an array of Web sites, papers, reports, and seminars loaded with the latest facts on diabetes prevention, testing, diagnosis, and care. The problem for busy nursing staffs is how to determine what is valuable so that scarce time is spent wisely on issues that will most benefit patients.

Information management has become a hot topic in long-term care settings. Overburdened staffs are being challenged to stay up to date on the latest developments in diabetes treatment not only to improve long-term care but also to mitigate litigation, negative publicity, and other factors that have adversely affected the nursing home industry in recent years.

Many nurses and nursing assistants, however, are finding it nearly impossible to wade through the reams of material that come their way on a daily basis. Some rely on their education and training, which often do not take into account the most recent changes in diabetes care or constantly updated standards issued by the American Medical Directors Association (AMDA), American Diabetes Association (ADA), and other organizations. These standards cover virtually every aspect of the disease, from glycemic control and lifestyle modification to pharmacologic interventions and much more; understanding them is vital.

This article is designed to help nurses and others cut through the clutter and locate relevant, credible, and reliable sources of information that they can access quickly and easily. Providing user-friendly online resources, newsletters, and continuing education programs should give these busy professionals a good starting point to help them manage diabetes information effectively.

Meeting the Information Challenge
Finding reliable information is essential, given the seriousness of managing diabetes, particularly in the long-term care environment. Long-term care has seen a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes among the geriatric population as a result of the current obesity epidemic in the United States. Studies have found that 26% of nursing home patients have diabetes and 30% have glucose intolerance.1

From blood glucose monitoring and calculated exercise regimens to diet and visual inspection of key body areas, nursing staffs are facing increased pressure to deliver quality care to these elderly and medically fragile individuals. Managing diabetes, along with residents' multiple coexisting medical conditions, is straining the resources of already overburdened nursing staffs. That said, nurses and nursing assistants can take several steps to obtain the latest information about diabetes management.

Make Use of the Web
One effective strategy is to make use of the numerous online diabetes resources. For example, the ADA's Web site (www.diabetes.org/cpr) not only provides diabetes care standards but also reports on research (i.e., clinical trials), a diabetes risk test, and diabetes expos, among other topics. In addition, the site offers a range of information on meetings and educational opportunities, research, clinical practice recommendations, journals, books, research papers, and more.

Similarly, AMDA (www.amda.com) has issued a standard titled, "Managing Diabetes in the Long Term Care Setting," as well as other information on diabetes care. Other credible Web sites include:

A comprehensive site (www.mendosa.com) developed by a freelance medical writer who specializes in diabetes lists articles, columns, and online pieces about all aspects of diabetes-from symptoms to the latest treatments. The site also lists and links to all of the 800 or so substantive resources for diabetes, including charitable organizations, publications, universities, medicines, companies, agencies, and so on. Web sites for 178 equipment suppliers are listed along with sites for medication, software, and blood glucose meters and nearly two dozen diabetes-focused food companies. Another 146 general diabetes sites, as well as directories, studies, and other material, can be found on this site. Because its area of coverage is wide, it might be worthwhile to delegate a staff member to set aside some time to explore this site.

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