The Nurse & Diabetes (In Honour of World Diabetes Day 2020)
An estimated 8 million Nigerians live with Diabetes, according to the WHO Nigeria Country profile report.. People with chronic illnesses like diabetes often require extensive health education about their condition and practical tips on ways they can modify their lifestyle to slow down the advance of the disease. Unfortunately, with a doctor: patient ratio of 1:2,753 in Nigeria, it is clear that we do not have enough doctors to handle the burden of diabetes care alone. Besides, the interaction between doctor and patient is often too short for the necessary information to be passed on to patients effectively.
Furthermore, chronic diseases like diabetes involve self-care and for patients to actively be part of their care process. This requires that patients are properly educated on how to remain in optimal health while living with diabetes.
All these calls for health intervention beyond regular consultations with the doctor. With a nurse: patient ratio of 1.5:1,000, nurses are in a great position to contribute meaningfully to patient care. Also, nurses tend to spend more time with patients and by having more frequent conversations, they are vital in driving the behavioral changes needed to improve a lot of patients with diabetes.
The question though, is how can nurses help diabetic patients live better, more fulfilling lives?
- Blood sugar monitoring
Nurses are often responsible for carrying out the blood sugar test at the point of care, screening undiagnosed patients, and monitoring sugar control in diagnosed patients.
- Urine monitoring
Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to a reduction in the kidney’s efficiency. This development can cause sugar and protein to be present in the patient’s urine. A urine strip test may be able to pick this up, and it can be vital to preventing further deterioration of kidney function.
- Lifestyle Changes
From eating healthily to exercising, and weight loss, nurses can help diabetic patients attain optimal glycaemic control by teaching the right lifestyle choices.
- How to use insulin
For patients who use injectables, the role of the nurse in putting them through the process of administering the drug, monitoring their sugar level, and other modes of self-care is crucial to effective therapy.
- General Well-being
Nurses are vital in overseeing the general well-being of diabetic patients. Chronic illnesses can be burdensome on mental health because of their nature. Nurses can help patients cope by organizing support groups for them. They may offer diabetic patients general advice on foot care and navigating life in the community as a person living with diabetes.
These are a few ways that nurses aid in ensuring that diabetic patients get the best care possible, and achieve glycaemic control.
By Dr. Okonkwor Oyor C.