Wednesday 14 November is World Diabetes Day – every year we use this day as an opportunity to internationally promote the issues most important in the world of diabetes.
The theme for World Diabetes Day this year is ‘the family and diabetes’. The aim is to raise awareness of the impact that diabetes has on the family and/or support network of those affected and promote the role of having a support network in the management, care and prevention of diabetes.
Yousif Mohammed is originally from Sudan. He arrived in the UK in 2008 as an asylum seeker and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2014.
Yousif knew something was wrong because he was tired all the time, thirsty, was going to the toilet a lot and had problems with his vision. As his condition worsened, he became ill, lost his job and subsequently was unable to pay his rent which led him to being homeless.
Yousif was homeless until March 2017, whilst homeless his diabetes was not being managed.
The diabetes had begun to affect his mental health, he was often in a low mood and at times depressed.
Earlier this year Yousif was admitted to hospital as his diabetes begun to spiral out of control. He had extremely high blood sugar, had lost a lot of weight and was physically very unwell.
Several months later, Yousif is now doing well both physically and mentally living in a community facility in Central London where he has a support network made up of a diabetes nurse, social workers, a psychiatrist, and a GP.
Yousif said: “The staff here supervise me and help me to keep check of my blood sugar twice a day. I also take insulin once a day in the morning and other medication in the morning and evening.”
“Life has been so much better since I moved here and I now have a network of people around to support me, I feel much better in myself. I exercise now; I have more energy, eat healthily, sleep better and do lots of activities with the staff. It also really helps having someone to talk to.”
Yousif’s story is a great example that reinforces the importance of having the right people around to support you and ensuring that staff in all health and social care settings have a good understanding of the condition to help prevent and manage it.
In North West London, Diabetes Nurse Consultant Ruth Miller developed a 10 point programme to improve basic understanding and awareness of diabetes for staff. The 10 point programme is a checklist of commonly seen errors and symptoms to provide frontline health and social care staff the right knowledge to effectively help people with diabetes. The programme helps staff to recognise when there is a problem and how to provide and get the right help.
Ruth Miller said: “I feel that the success of Yousif’s story has been made possible with the input of the exceptional people that have come into contact with him and their understanding of his condition. We have been able to work together to ensure that all of his complex care needs are taken care of.”
Yousif is now positive about his future and his ability to live a future where he keeps getting better and is better able to manage his condition. His advice to others living with diabetes is to: “Eat healthily and regularly, get a good night’s sleep, monitor yourself and stay active.”